Coventry guides nine-wicket win
Matabeleland Tuskers 158 for 1 (Coventry 67*, Horton 56*) beat Southern Rocks 154 for 8 (Taibu 60, Staddon 2-24) by nine wickets
Charles Coventry secured an honourable end to Matabeleland Tuskers' Twenty20 campaign as his boundary-laden half-century took them to a nine-wicket win over Southern Rocks at Harare Sports Club and third place in the final standings. Entering after Neil Carter had been removed early in pursuit of Rocks' 154 for 8, Coventry shared in an unbroken 126-run partnership with Paul Horton, who hit an unbeaten fifty of his own, as victory was achieved with 10 balls to spare.
Carrying a niggling injury that has curtailed his bowling in this tournament, Carter has been used as a top-order pinch-hitter and launched Tuskers' innings with three successive boundaries in left-arm seamer Tendai Chisoro's second over. Elton Chigumbura struck back for Rocks with his very first ball as Carter gave himself room and slashed out to deep cover where Tendai Chitongo held a superb catch, diving to his left.
Coventry got off to a fluent start, collecting boundaries off his national team-mates Chigumbura and Chamu Chibhabha. But where Coventry might often have been accused of throwing away his wicket too quickly, today he played himself in carefully as seven overs of careful accumulation passed before he broke free.
When the charge did finally come, it was explosive, and successive sixes helped plunder 22 off Chigumbura's final over. With Tuskers hurrying towards their target, former Zimbabwe Under-19 legspinner Chitongo was crunched for six over the cover boundary and offspinner Keith Kulinga's second over was dismissed for 11. After Horton went to his fifty, Coventry finished the job two balls into the 19th over, slapping Chitongo to midwicket to seal the win and third place for Tuskers.
It was a disappointing end for Rocks, who had a nightmare season in 2009-10 but came back strongly this time round and appeared to be the form team of this tournament. Their batting had been their most impressive facet, but today it was the batsmen that let the side down. With Sikandar Raza and Chigumbura both falling early, it was left to Tatenda Taibu to repair the innings with a typically enterprising half-century. But he found precious little support, with the middle order being skittled cheaply as medium-pacers Keegan Meth and Bradley Staddon picking up two wickets apiece.
Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo