Matabeleland Tuskers and Mountaineers surged to easy wins as the Stanbic Bank 20 Series got rolling in Harare.
Natsai Mushangwe was the hero for Mountaineers after they chose to field against Mid West Rhinos at the Harare Sports Club. Rhinos were in a dominant position at 55 for 1 in the eighth over, with Brendan Taylor and Riki Wessels on menacing 30-plus scores. Mushangwe, however, accounted for Taylor, who had struck two sixes, to spark a slide in which nine wickets fell for 60 runs. Shingi Masakadza and Prosper Utseya chipped in with two wickets apiece, while Mushangwe scalped 3 for 19.
The target of 116 posed Mountaineers with few problems, after Hamilton Masakadza laid the foundation with a steady 34. Former New Zealand allrounder Chris Harris then controlled the chase with an unbeaten 39 to take his side home with seven balls to spare. Fast bowlers Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes - the Australian imports in the two sides - finished wicketless in their economical spells.
Njabulo Ncube was Mashonaland Eagles' bugbear as they struggled to 120 for 8 in their 20 overs, a target that Matabeleland Tuskers hunted down with four overs to spare also at the Harare Sports Club. Keegan Meth started the damage, picking up 2 for 15 as the power-packed Eagles top order faltered. Rory Hamilton-Brown, Peter Trego and Ryan ten Doeschate were the notable casualties as they stumbled to 51 for 5 in the 10th over. A series of 20s from Forster Mutizwa, Elton Chigumbura and Andrew Hall steadied the situation, setting the Tuskers a run-a-ball chase.
Tom Smith's early dismissal gave Eagles some hope, but Chris Gayle was only warming up to the task. He did not clear the field, but struck three fours in a crisp 27, and along with Paul Horton (30) took the game away from Eagles. Charles Coventry then sealed victory in a blaze of big hits, smashing four sixes and two fours in 44 off 19 balls.