Vermeulen century takes Mountaineers to victory
Mountaineers 262 (Mawoyo 65, Utseya 52, Ncube 4-47) and 250 for 5 (Vermeulen 111*, Mawoyo 40) beat Matabeleland Tuskers 267 (Coventry 116, Mushangwe 4-68) and 243 (Meth 94, Masakadza 5-53) by five wickets
Mark Vermeulen's unbeaten century guided Mountaineers to a five-wicket victory over Matabeleland Tuskers in Bulawayo on the final afternoon after fast bowler Shingirai Masakadza's five-wicket haul on the third day had left them with 249 runs to chase.
Mountaineers were in some trouble at 78 for 3 but a 114-run stand between Vermeulen and Prosper Utseya steadied the innings. After Utseya's dismissal, Vermeulen kept his cool to steer his side to a win in what could have become a tense chase.
Masakadza, who made his one-day and T20 debut against West Indies earlier this year, set up the chase with impressive bowling in Tuskers' second innings. He first reduced them to 26 for 3, including the big wicket of Charles Coventry, and then returned to take three of the last four wickets as Tuskers were dismissed for 243. That total was possible largely due to Keegan Meth's aggressive 94.
The match had been reduced to a second-innings battle after both teams were dismissed within five runs of each other in the first innings. Coventry's century in an otherwise uninspiring performance took Tuskers to 267, legspinner Natsai Mushangwe taking 4 for 68. Njabulo Ncube and Chris Mpofu ensured Mountaineers didn't cross that total, taking seven wickets between themselves as Mountaineers were bowled out for 262.
Mountaineers earned six points for their win to go to the top of the table while Tuskers got a point for taking the first innings lead.
Southern Rocks 325 (Chibhabha 85, Mutombodzi 5-97) and 449 for 5 dec (Taibu 153*, Marillier 98, Tikolo 92, Chitongo 69) drew with Mashonaland Eagles 331 for 9 dec (Mutizwa 114, Chakabva 53, Chinouya 3-78) and 26 for 0 (Masvaure 25*)
A last-wicket stand of 20 enabled Mashonaland Eagles to take the first-innings lead against Southern Rocks and earn themselves a point in a drawn game dominated by batsmen at the Masvingo Sports Club.
Forster Mutizwa had played a captain's innings of 114 but his side still needed 14 runs to overhaul Rocks' total of 325 when the last pair of Tinotenda Mutombodzi and Mark Mbofana came together. Mutombodzi ensured his team went ahead and Eagles finally declared on 331 for 9. He had earlier taken 5 for 97 with his legspin, including the wicket of top-scorer Chamu Chibhabha for 85.
After conceding the slender lead, Rocks piled on the runs in the second innings, eventually declaring on 449 for 5. Tatenda Taibu was unbeaten on 153 while former Kenya captain Steve Tikolo and Steve Marillier missed out on centuries, both getting dismissed in the nineties. Eagles batted for less than five overs in their second innings before the match was called off.