BAN v SL (1)
Charlotte Edwards (4)
WHEN the National First League went into a two-week Christmas and New Year break, the destiny of the league championship was firmly in the hands of Takashinga as they boasted of a six-point lead at the top. However, two games after the break, the championship has taken a dramatic change as Takashinga have virtually collapsed, leaving Universals and Old Georgians to decide the destiny of the title.
Long-time leaders Takashinga slumped to yet another defeat in the penultimate round of matches when they suffered a five-run defeat at home to Harare Sports Club. While Takashinga were losing, three nearest rivals won and there are now four teams tied at the top on 21 points and only separated by the net run rate.
HSC batted first and compiled 210/9 off their allotted Takashinga 50 overs with opener Mark Vermeulen hitting a fine 51. In reply Takashinga were all out for 205 in the 50th over with Alester Maregwede the top scorer on 47.
Mutare moved to the top of the standings after a comprehensive ten-wicket mauling of winless Bulawayo side Macdonald Club at a neutral Alexandra Sports Club. Mac Club were bundled out for a mere 63 in 23.5 overs with Richard Sims claiming three wickets for seven runs in 3.5 overs while Leon Soma and Justin Lewis took three wickets each. Mutare reached their victory target of 64 in just six overs with Tafadzwa Madondo scoring 36 not out.
Third-placed Old Georgians won two matches in Bulawayo. They first accounted for Queens Sports Club on January 19 and won by 47 runs after successfully defending their total of 222. The following day OGs beat Bulawayo Athletic Club by 90 runs. All-rounder Gus Mackay scored 127 and Barney Rogers added 66 while Matthew Townsend took three for 39.
Universals beat champions Old Hararians by three wickets, a result that saw OH slump to an unfamiliar 10th place in the 12-team league. Old Georgians and Universals are scheduled to meet on January 26 to fulfill a fixture, which was postponed last year due to the Ramadan. This means that whoever wins the outstanding match will have the strongest say in the destiny of the championship.
In other matches Kwekwe Sports Club posted a comprehensive 157-run win at home over Bulawayo Sports Club. Kwekwe made 299 for seven in 50 overs with Terrence Duffin scoring 112 and Dirk Viljoen weighing in with 77, while BSC were all out for 142 in 34.3 overs.