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National First League champions Mutare Sports Club and runners-up Old Georgians have made it to the final of the league knockout competition, setting up what promises to be an explosive finish to the 2001/02 club cricket season.
Despite missing the services of Alistair Campbell, Guy Whittall and reliable all-rounder Richard Simms on national duty, Mutare didn't look at all vulnerable as they romped to a comfortable seven-wicket home win over Takashinga. The match was more competitive than the league encounter between the two sides at the same venue on January 26 when Mutare won by nine wickets while chasing a target of less than 100.
This time Takashinga made 217 for the loss of eight wickets off their allotted 50 overs with Under-19 batsman Elton Chigumbura the top scorer on 63, while opener Ranga Manyande made 47. Veteran Mark Burmester took four wickets for 36 off his 10 overs. The hosts then reached 218 for three in 42.5 overs.
At Old Georgians, the hosts made it three out of three with a comfortable eight-wicket win over Universals. It was the third consecutive meeting between the two teams over the past three weeks. Universals, parading probably their strongest team against OGs this season, batted first and could only make 168 for nine off 50 overs with the best score being 38 from number seven batsman Imran Meman. There were two wickets each for Gus Mackay, Craig Evans and Under-19 bowler Simon Seager.
In reply Old Georgians reached 170 for the loss of two wickets in 38.5 overs. Opener Andre Neethling finished unbeaten on 70 together with national Under-16 batsman Duncan Bradshaw who made 33 not out. Opener Lance Malloch-Brown had scored 34 while number three batsman Barney Rogers was out for 19.
Now OGs have the chance of atoning for their failure to win the league when they face Mutare in the knockout final at Harare Sports Club on 17 March. A net run rate had to be used to determine the winner of the closely fought National First League championship race and Mutare were the victors, leaving Old Georgians disappointed.