Southern Rocks clung on for a draw against top-of-the-table Mashonaland Eagles in a rain-inflicted match at Masvingo Sports Club.
After rain had washed out the opening days play, visiting captain Elton Chigumbura won the toss and chose to field. At 154-5 it looked a good decision but the Southern Rocks lower order rallied with 47 from Thomas Odoyo and a maiden first-class fifty from 20-year-old Tendai Chitongo. Chitongo hit eight fours and two sixes in a patiently compiled 66 before he was out to the left-arm spin of Ray Price. Price finished with 3 for 57 from 20.1 overs but Trevor Garwe was the pick of the Mashonaland bowlers, taking 4 for 59.
When their turn came to bat Mashonaland wasted no time racking up an imposing score. Opener Tafadzwa Mufambisi made 58 before Gregory Lamb and Forster Mutizwa weighed in with hundreds to pile the pressure on the home side. Mitizwa (113) was the more aggressive of the two, hitting 12 boundaries and a six, while Lamb (106), who has played county cricket with Hampshire, hit seven boundaries in his 183-ball stay. Chigumbura (84) and Regis Chakabva (53) rammed home the advantage as the Eagles took a 191-run lead.
With under a day to survive Southern Rocks should have been comfortable and but by the end of their 15th over had lost four wickets for 47, including captain Steve Tikilo, bowled by Douglas Hondo for 2. A patient stand between Craig Ervine and Erick Chauluka used up a crucial 13 overs but when they fell in quick succession, followed by two more wickets soon after, it looked as though Mashonaland had secured the game. Yet the ninth-wicket partnership of wicketkeeper Alester Maregwede (21 not out) and Tendai Chisoro (2 not out) resolutely defended, blocking out 81 deliveries, to ensure Southern Rocks a share of the spoils.
Rain was the deciding factor between Mountaineers and Matabeleland Tuskers at Mutare Sports Club. Matabeleland Tuskers were asked to bat on a damp first morning and stumbled to 89 for 4 before Gavin Ewig and Keith Dabengwa fought back to take them to 138 without any further loss by the close of day one.
Ewig moved on to a rapid 58 from 53 balls on day two, before he became the second of three run-outs in the innings claimed by Shingirai Masakadza. From 143 for 4 Matabeleland crashed to 195 all out in the space of 22.5 overs as Timycen Maruma took 4 for 30 with his offspin.
Mountaineers' reply spanned two rain-interrupted days, with solid contributions from the entire top six ensuring that they had the better of the match. Tatenda Taibu compiled a patient 58 and captain Hamilton Masakadza a bright 79 from 105 balls but it was Maruma who lit up the final day, with 59 from just 36 balls, in an innings that included three sixes and five fours. He was matched almost stroke-for-stroke by Stuart Matsikenyeri, who struck six fours in his 36-ball 49, before he was trapped in front by Keegan Meth.
The draw kept Mountaineers second, behind the Eagles, at the top of the table while the Tuskers remain second from the bottom.