Raza, Chibhabha bludgeon Tuskers
With Zimbabwe well into its rainy season, both games in the latest round of the MetBank Pro40 Championship were shortened due to the inclement weather. Masvingo Sports Club has a reputation as a batting paradise and that certainly seemed to be the case in the midst of Sikandar Raza and Chamu Chibhabha 161-run opening stand that helped set up a massive total of 253 for 6 in just 32 overs for Southern Rocks. Matabeleland Tuskers' batsmen failed to build any notable partnerships in reply as the visitors fell 45 runs short.
Chibhabha and Raza, both of whom have been included in Zimbabwe's preliminary World Cup squad, have put together several useful opening partnerships for Rocks in Twenty20 cricket, and they appeared to be operating in a similar mode as they rocketed along at close to eight an over after being put in to bat by Tuskers. Raza was the quicker of the two, sprinting past fifty and reaching a career-best 80 - including five fours and four sixes - before he was trapped lbw by Keith Dabengwa's left-arm spin.
Chibhabha and Elton Chigumbura took their team past 200, and though wickets fell regularly after they were dismissed Rocks still managed to reach a formidable total. Despite enterprising innings from captain Gavin Ewing and Paul Horton, Tuskers stumbled through the early stages of their reply and slipped to 63 for 4 in the ninth over. Offspinner Hilary Matanga ensured there would be no fightback, taking a career-best 4 for 30 as Tuskers closed on 208 for 8.
The rain was even more extensive up north, and Mashonaland Eagles' match against Mid West Rhinos at Harare Sports Club was reduced to a 25-overs-a-side affair. A disciplined performance from Eagles' new-ball bowlers, Douglas Hondo and Chad Keegan, with competent back-up from Andrew Hall and Ray Price kept Rhinos to 120 for 7. After Cephas Zhuwawo's boundary-laden 34 launched the innings, Regis Chakabva's unbeaten 47 guided Eagles home to a seven-wicket win in the 21st over.
Eagles captain Forster Mutizwa opted to field after winning the toss and the move soon paid off as the home attack proved a handful in the damp conditions. Hondo removed both openers, including Gary Ballance for a four-ball duck, and when Price had Malcolm Waller caught by Innocent Chinyoka for his second wicket Rhinos were 52 for 5 in the 13th over. That they eventually scored as many runs as they did was almost entirely due to Riki Wessels' unbeaten 43.
Rhinos threatened to fight back with the ball when both Eagles openers were removed in the space of five balls with the score only just past 40, but Chakabva couldn't be tied down and found helpful support from Mutizwa and Greg Lamb to seal the win.
It was a sorely needed result for Eagles, who remain at the bottom of the Points table despite their win after losing five of their first six games. Rocks' victory takes them to second position, edging ahead of Tusker by virtue of their superior net run-rate.