Mountaineers strengthened their position at the top of the table after a four-wicket haul by fast bowler Tendai Chatara carried them to a 43-run victory against Mashonaland Eagles at the Harare Sports Club. The match was fought closely all the way through, and entered the fourth day with both sides in with a chance to win.
Eagles were chasing 202 but found themselves a wicket down in the second over after fast bowler Silent Mujaji trapped opener Nick Compton lbw. They never recovered from that blow and collapsed to 95 for 9. Mark Mbofana, who was Eagles' highest scorer in the first innings, survived the hostile spell from Chatara, and finally found a partner willing to stay with him in No. 11 Innocent Chinyoka. Chinyoka hung around for 95 minutes and forced the match into the 78th over of the final day. He was finally dismissed, caught by Mark Vermeulen off Mujaji, leaving Mbofana stranded on 64, after the two had added 63 for the last wicket.
Eagles' bowlers had brought their team back into the game on the third day, bowling Mountaineers out for 218 in their second innings after they were comfortably placed at 164 for 3. Legspinner Tinotenda Mutombodzi ran through Mountaineers' tail and finished with figures of 4 for 35. Mountaineers captain Tino Mawoyo had given them a solid start in the second innings with his 82.
The sides were on even pegging after the first innings, with Eagles taking a 17-run lead thanks to half-centuries from Mbofana and Trevor Garwe. Mountaineers recovered from 23 for 3 to score 283 in their first innings. Greg Smith's 118 and Vermeulen's 86 accounted for most of their runs. Eagles are yet to win a game this season and are second from bottom in the table.
A solid first-innings batting performance from Mid West Rhinos set up a comprehensive innings-and-57-run win over Southern Rocks at the Kwekwe Sports Club.
Rhinos' first-innings total of 459 was set up by centuries from Vusi Sibanda and Malcolm Waller. The duo added 209 for the third wicket at nearly five runs an over. The partnership finally came to an end when Brian Vitori dismissed Sibanda for 136. Waller fell soon after for 102, and Rhinos lost quick wickets, slipping from 309 for 2 to 341 for 6. However, any hopes that Rocks might have had of wrapping up Rhinos' innings quickly were dashed by an 87-run seventh wicket partnership between Mluleki Nkala and Roland Benade, who helped the side reach 459.
In reply, Rocks started poorly, losing two wickets within the first 11 overs. A 94-run partnership between Roy Kaia and Richmond Mutumbami steadied the innings. However, Mutumbami's dismissal with the score on 122 triggered a collapse. Ian Nicolson and Simon Mugava ran through the Rocks batting, sharing seven wickets as Rocks crumbled from 122 for 2 to 197 all out, 262 runs short of Rhinos' first-innings total.
Rhinos enforced the follow-on, but Rocks made a better start to their second innings with openers Samuel Mwakayeni and Kaia putting on a century partnership. However, once Mwakayeni was dismissed by Waller, the Rocks' batting line-up collapsed again. They lost nine wickets for 101 runs, with Mugava and Waller picking up seven wickets between them. With No. 11 Michael Chinouya unable to bat because of an injury, the Rocks innings ended on 205, as the Rhinos completed their victory in just three days.