Cremer spins Rhinos into finals
Mid West Rhinos 200 for 6 (Waller 54, Mire 45*, Masakadza 2-17) beat Mountaineers 84 (Kasuza 30, Cremer 4-13, Muzhange 2-14) by 116 runs
Mid West Rhinos surged into the finals of the MetBank Pro40 Championship with a thumping 116-run win over Mountaineers at Harare Sports Club. Rhinos reached 200 for 6, thanks to solid knocks from Vusi Sibanda and Malcolm Waller and a late blast from Solomon Mire, and then skittled Mountaineers for just 84, legspinner Graeme Cremer taking 4 for 13.
This was a grudge match for Rhinos, who were beaten in the final of this tournament by Mountaineers last season. As in their meeting this time last year, Mountaineers won the toss and chose to field. Shingi Masakadza nipped out two early wickets - including the big one of Brendan Taylor who, if he was attempting one of his now famous uppercuts, miscued it badly and skied a catch that was well taken by point running backwards - but Rhinos captain Sibanda and Waller prompted a recovery with a decisive 83-run stand that was the highest partnership of the day.
Neither batsman started fluently and more than once a miscued stroke just evaded the fielders, but they still scored their runs at close to five an over. When Sibanda was run out for a 65-ball 42 shortly after the hundred had been raised in the 24th over, Waller and wicketkeeper Riki Wessels managed to maintain the run-scoring momentum, but Waller's dismissal for 54 in the 30th over sparked something of a collapse.
Spinner Timycen Maruma removed Wessels and allrounder Remembrance Nyathi in the space of three deliveries to reduce Rhinos to 134 for 6, but Cremer and Mire then combined to take full advantage of the last 10 overs. Cremer's role was clearly to hand Mire as much of the strike as possible, and with good reason as Mire slammed two fours and three sixes in a rapid 45 to lift Rhinos to exactly 200.
Mountaineers' reply never got going, fast bowler Ian Nicolson and left-arm medium-pacer Justin Lewis both striking twice in their opening spells to rip through the top order. Zimbabwe Under-19 batsman Kevin Kasuza and Prosper Utseya attempted to launch a recovery, but with Cremer's introduction Rhinos took full control.
He struck with his very fast ball of the match, snaring Utseya caught-and-bowled, and completely asphyxiated the scoring rate as not a single run was scored from his first four overs. With medium-pacer Richard Muzhange providing good support with two wickets, Cremer sealed the game and Rhinos' place in the final with the wickets of Shingi Masakadza and Tinashe Panyangara from successive deliveries.