Tuskers solidify their top spot with win
Matabeleland Tuskers ran to their third consecutive win in the MetBank Pro40 Championship, Terry Duffin's 88 guiding them to a four-wicket victory over Mashonaland Eagles at the Country Club ground in Harare. After being put in by Tuskers captain Gavin Ewing, Eagles struggled against seam and spin alike and were bowled out for 196 in the 36th over. Though he fell before the job was quite done, Duffin's knock set up the win with 25 balls to spare.
Mashonaland Eagles are traditionally one of the strongest domestic sides, while Tuskers endured a nightmare season in 2009-10, battling Southern Rocks for the bottom spot. But the roles have been reversed this time around, and this result solidifies Tuskers' position at the top while Eagles remain winless from four games.
After Tuskers' seamers dealt with the top order, Keegan Meth, Chris Mpofu and Tawanda Mupariwa picking up six wickets between them, the spinners ensured there would be no fightback from the Eagles. Forster Mutizwa blazed to a 25-ball 39 and stand-in captain Ryan Butterworth battled hard for his 45 - his best effort in List A games - but Eagles couldn't put together any significant partnerships and offspinner John Nyumbu closed the innings by removing Tinotenda Mutombodzi for his second wicket.
Duffin, not known for his quick scoring in limited-overs games, seemed to find the boundary with ease and managed 11 fours and a six before falling to Greg Lamb, who was the pick of the Eagles bowlers with three wickets. The 72 runs Duffin put on for the fourth wicket with Charles Coventry swung the game firmly Tuskers' way, and though both fell before the job was done Keith Dabengwa was on hand to guide the team home.
On a batsman's track at Kwekwe Sports Club, four of the Mountaineers' top order passed fifty as they reached a massive 301 for 7. Tino Mawoyo continued the good form he showed against New Zealand A with 50, while Jonathan Beukes shrugged off his failures in the opening round of the Logan Cup with a boundary-laden 67. Greg Smith and Timycen Maruma then combined to put on 60 at better than 10-an-over, and despite a lower-order wobble Mountaineers set a daunting target.
With stormclouds approaching, Brendan Taylor launched Mid West Rhinos' chase with a brutal half-century, lacing 12 fours and a six and putting on 90 for the first wicket with Gary Ballance. But after he was dismissed, caught by Hamilton Masakadza off the bowling of Tinashe Panyangara, the innings lost momentum and when the weather intervened Rhinos were 43 runs short on the Duckworth/Lewis method.