Mountaineers lower order secures trophy
Mountaineers 149 for 7 (S Masakadza 41*, Utseya 30*, Rainsford 4-48, Cremer 3-36) beat Mid West Rhinos 144 (Utseya 3-24) by three wickets
Mountaineers staged an impressive fightback to take the Faithwear Medbank trophy after slumping to 66 for 7 in their pursuit of a seemingly comfortable 145 against Mid West Rhinos. However, in conditions that aided the bowlers Ed Rainsford and Graeme Cremer shared seven wickets before Prosper Utseya and Shingirai Masakadza turned the match again with an unbeaten eighth-wicket stand of 83.
Rhinos innings never found any momentum as Bothwell Chapungu top scored with 27 and they were bowled out in the 36th over, but Mountaineers' chase was a fraught affair. After easing to 29 in the fifth over the slump kicked in when Tinotenda Mawoyo sliced a catch to cover and then Cremer removed Stuart Matsikenyeri in the next over.
Wickets continued to tumble as Rainsford and Cremer bowled their 10 overs straight through either side of the lunch break. That decision ultimately proved costly with a lack of firepower later in the innings, but at 66 for 7 it appeared to have worked wonders. Then Utseya and Masakadza showed batting wasn't impossible as they knuckled down.
Masakadza grew in confidence playing some fine drives and slowly Mountaineers regained hope. One or two false strokes almost resulted in catches, but the batsmen survived and the target came into sight. Vusi Sibanda, the Rhinos captain, tried everything as he used nine bowlers yet nothing could break the partnership and Masakadza sealed victory in fine style as he lofted Malcolm Waller over mid-on for six.
Utseya's role hadn't just been with the bat as he earlier took 3 for 24 to play a key role in restricting Rhinos. The top order were set back by Njabulo Ncube's two wickets and two run outs as they fell to 69 for 5. Chapunga gave some solidity before becoming Utseya's first scalp and the innings withered away. Yet for a while it look like the bowlers would rescue them. It wasn't to be.