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Two hundreds from two old school friends lit up the latest round of Zimbabwe's 50-over championship, Stuart Matsikenyeri and Tatenda Taibu contributing two eye-catching centuries that were both made from No. 4 for their respective teams. While Matsikenyeri's unbeaten 110 - his first List A hundred in his 201st match - set up a 117-run win for Mashonaland Eagles, Taibu's run-a-ball 106 helped Southern Rocks squeeze to a tie in a high-scoring match against Mid West Rhinos.
Eagles were thankful for Matsikenyeri's effort at Mutare Sports Club as no other batsman made more than 25 and he did much to hold the innings together after they had slipped to precarious 107 for 5. He found able partners in Trevor Garwe, Nathan Waller and Ray Price, bringing up a 123-ball century in the 47th over and staying until the end to guide Eagles to 269 for 9.
Mountaineers' reply never got going, with both openers falling in the teens. Hamilton Masakadza's 81-ball 71 kept up their hopes, but once he was dismissed the fight went from the innings. Kyle Jarvis was the main destroyer, his dimissal of Masakadza sparking a dramatic collapse as the last five wickets fell for just two runs in the space of less than three overs.
In Masvingo, an ominously strong showing from Mid West Rhinos' top order boosted them to 305 for 8 after they had chosen to bat. Vusi Sibanda (47), Gary Ballance (46) and Brendan Taylor (55) all showed their class before Malcolm Waller's bellicose 59-ball 86 ensured Rhinos would reach an imposing total.
Rocks' initial response lacked the same fluency, but Robertson Chinyengetere shared in a 166-run stand with Taibu at better than a-run-a-ball to tilt the match in their favour. When he was dismissed, Rocks needed 77 in just under 12 overs, but the pressure proved telling on the lower order. Taibu could not stick around to finish the job, becoming one of offspinner Simon Mugava's three victims, but Tendai Chisoro's rapid 29 took Rocks close before a final effort from Hilary Matanga drew the scores level.
Eagles' win solidified their position at the top of the points table, while Rhinos, Rocks and Mountaineers are all still languishing winless.