Butterworth keeps Eagles on top
Mashonaland Eagles solidified their position at the top of the points table of the Stanbic Bank 20 tournament as another fine allround performance from Ryan Butterworth took them to a three-wicket win over Mid West Rhinos at Harare Sports Club. Butterworth chipped in with a wicket after Rhinos opted to set a target and reached 174 for 6 and then, with his side in some trouble at 99 for 6, blasted six sixes - four of them in one over - in a 20-ball 52 to secure the win and his second Man of the Match award in two days.
Eagles had tweaked their batting line-up heading into their chase, with Trevor Garwe and Andrew Hall pushed up the order, but the decision backfired as Ian Nicolson's pace and Brendan Taylor's part-time offspin combined to reduce them to 26 for 3. Overseas batsman Nick Compton led a revival, taking three fours from one Paul Franks over as he reached a rapid half-century only to be caught at deep extra-cover off legspinner Graeme Cremer.
Taylor then struck in consecutive balls to bring Butterworth to the crease to face the hat-trick delivery. With that hurdle safely negotiated, Butterworth seized the initiative with gusto and put on 51 in under five overs with Forster Mutizwa. When Cremer bowled Mutizwa with the first ball of the 18th over with 25 required the game was anybody's once again, but Butterworth responded in brutal fashion to seal the result.
Taylor returned to bowl the 19th over and Butterworth ensured there would be no need for the match to go into the final six balls as he smashed three successive sixes, played out a dot ball, and then finished the game with a fourth. His effort took him to the top of the run-scoring charts, level with team-mate Compton with 155 runs.
A pair of electric innings from Sikandar Raza and Elton Chigumbura set up Southern Rocks' 41-run win over Matabeleland Tuskers in the other match of the day. Raza shared in a 98-run opening partnership with Brian Lara - to which Lara contributed just 11 - and was within sight of a maiden Twenty20 hundred when he slapped Keith Dabengwa to Paul Horton at extra cover to be out for 93 just two balls into the 12th over.
He had added a quickfire 43 for the second wicket with Chigumbura, who was every bit as aggressive at the crease and hit his first ball, from Tuskers captain Gavin Ewing, high over midwicket for six. Six more sixes - but no fours - followed as Chigumbura rushed past fifty and Rocks amassed 221 for 6.
Tuskers' top order made a valiant effort to chase the runs down, but while each of the top five made aggressive starts none stuck around long enough to play a decisive innings. Facing an almost impossible task, the lower order imploded and Chamu Chibhabha collected four wickets as Tuskers were bowled out for 180 in the final over.