Inspired Vipers take third place
Desert Vipers 126 for 7 (van Schoor 46, Pretorius 36, Mpofu 2-26) beat Matabeleland Tuskers 91 (Mupariwa 31, Klazinga 2-13, Viljoen 2-14) by 35 runs
Appropriately, the two teams that played in the only abandoned match of the tournament met in a third-place play-off. Desert Vipers from Namibia, who had begun the series quite weakly, showed how much they had learned and improved with a convincing victory over Matabeleland Tuskers by 31 runs.
Vipers decided to bat, as they had in the previous match. Tuskers opened their bowling with the occasional medium-pacers of Dion Ebrahim, as they had done once before in the tournament, presumably to take the pace off the ball; he conceded five singles but no boundaries, and was not used again. In fact Tuskers juggled their bowlers a great deal, often bowling them in single-over spells. The opening pair put on 30 in five overs before Keegan Meth trapped Gerrit Rudolph, younger brother of Jacques, lbw for 11.
Accurate bowling with a full length, supported by tight fielding, never allowed the Vipers batsmen to take control. For a while, and as usual, Dwaine Pretorius gave the bowlers a hard time, running up 36 off 22 balls, but was then caught and bowled by Sean Williams. Raymond van Schuur, the aggressive opener who has taken heavy toll of the fast men during the tournament, was kept under restraint; he responded with a disciplined innings that eventually brought him 47 runs off 53 balls before he sent a high catch to deep midwicket in the final over; the fact that he hit only one six and one four showed how well the Tuskers handled him. Three wickets fell in that final over, bowled by Chris Mpofu, keeping the total down to a mediocre 126 for 7. Keith Dabengwa bowled with the greatest economy, conceding only 16 runs off his four overs.
Tuskers also struggled for runs and soon lost both openers for 12; when Greg Strydom quickly followed they were 14 for 3 in the fifth over. They took the justifiable gamble of sending in Andy Blignaut at this point to join Williams, who departed to a catch at the wicket on 21. Blignaut, as usual, played himself in, but the situation worsened when Dabengwa holed out at long leg with the score on 32 in the ninth over. After 10 overs, the Tuskers were 38 for 5, needing 89 off 60 balls. All depended on Blignaut.
Ebrahim and soon Meth departed, and then came the vital blow. Blignaut, still not anywhere near full throttle, turned a ball uppishly backward of square leg and was well held low down by Tiaan Louw off Craig Williams; the score was 47 for 8. It started raining moments later, but play went on, with the Tuskers not far from leaving their humiliation incomplete. But the tail displayed more spirit than the top order. Dylon Higgins briefly showed some defiance, scoring 11, and Tafadzwa Mupariwa hammered the bowling for 31 off 15 balls, including two sixes and as many fours. The end finally came at 91, with Vipers reaping the reward for their improvement during the tournament. They had bowled and fielded particularly well, Williams taking three wickets, and there were economical two-wicket analyses for Louis Klazinga, Christi Viljoen and van Schoor, who put down the wicketkeeping gloves in this match to bowl offspin.