Rising Stars gained their first victory in the Pro50 Championship on Sunday when they beat Midlands Rhinos by five wickets at Harare Sports Club.
Perhaps Rhinos were still suffering a reaction from their outstanding victory over Manicaland Mountaineers in the Logan Cup last weekend, but after a good start to the match, they faded away.
Stars nearly threw away their chances with a bad batting collapse in their middle order before fifties from Tarisai Musakanda and Mohamad Faraz Akram took them home.
On a clear sunny morning, on a good-looking pitch, Stars won the toss and put Rhinos in to bat.
Both teams went into the match looking for their first victory of the List A tournament.
For Rhinos, Trevor Chibvongodze and Bothwell Chapungu opened the batting against Faraz Akram and Honest Ziwira.
Chapungu began slowly, but steadily opened up, and the pair took the score to 52 off 10 overs before Chibvongodze moved right in front of a ball from the new bowler, Tinashe Muchawaya, and was out lbw for 13.
Chapungu and the new batsman, Peter Moor, batted steadily for a while, with Chapungu reaching his fifty off 48 balls.
Moor was now into his stride, and he hit two fours and a six in five balls off the chinaman bowler, Rugare Magarira.
He went on to make 42 off 72 balls in a partnership of 80 with Chapungu before he tried to hit a ball from Tony Munyonga for six and was caught on the long-off boundary; 133 for two in the 30th over.
Prince Masvaure came in next and immediately looked at ease and full of confidence after his brilliant Logan Cup century a week earlier.
Chapungu continued to head towards his century, but he was denied, as he attempted a risky cut against Munyonga and chopped the ball on to his stumps.
He scored 85 off 94 balls, with seven fours and a six, and the score was 160 for three in the 36th over, not as high as Rhinos would have wanted.
Masvaure also got out through an indiscreet stroke in trying to raise the run rate, scoring 16 off 24 balls before he backed away, trying to cut a ball from Munyonga, but only edged it to the keeper; 167 for four after 38 overs.
Two more left-handers were now in together, James Bruce and Tendai Chisoro.
Chisoro (9), trying to force the pace, was caught on the square-leg boundary off Brandon Mavuta; 187 for five in the 43rd over.
The 200 only came up in the 45th over, and then Bruce (22) was out to a superb running catch on the midwicket boundary by Mavuta.
As Rhinos grew more desperate for quick runs, Nyasha Mayavo (3) drove a high catch to long-on and the wicketkeeper, Tafadzwa Tsiga, took a brilliant leaping catch to remove Remembrance Nyathi (1).
Faraz Akram produced a fine delivery to bowl Mike Chinouya for five, and finally, Trevor Gwandu skyed a catch to depart for seven, bringing the innings to a hasty conclusion for 218, with eight balls left unbowled.
Muchawaya took most of the tail-end wickets and finished with four for 31, but the pick of the bowlers was Munyonga, with three for 34, and it was his bowling in tandem with Mavuta that put the brakes on the Rhinos innings at a crucial time.
Stars opened with Tinashe Kamunhukamwe and Tsiga to the bowling of Chinouya and Gwandu.
The batsmen went after the bowling, but Tsiga, on five, had a narrow escape when he skyed a ball from Gwandu to mid-off, but it was dropped.
Kamunhukamwe was less fortunate, as he drove a ball from Chinouya into the covers and was caught for 11.
Tafadzwa Mupariwa now came in and settled down with Tsiga into an impressive partnership.
Under no great pressure to score quickly, they worked the ball around the field skilfully and the score steadily mounted.
The partnership came to an end at 97, though, when Tsiga swung across the line at a ball from Chibvongodze, bowling off-breaks, and was bowled for 34.
This proved to be a major breakthrough, as Mupariwa soon followed, caught at midwicket in Chibvongodze’s next over for 42.
It was then that Musakanda became involved in two run-outs that set his team back badly.
First, he called Ryan Burl for a risky single off the second ball the latter faced, which resulted in him being run out at the bowler’s end, thanks to some fine fielding from Chapungu.
Musakanda did the same again to the next batsman, Munyonga, which resulted in his run-out for eight.
With the score at 121 for five now, the balance of the match had swung completely, leaving much responsibility on Musakanda to put right the damage he had caused.
Faraz Akram came in next and played some impressive strokes, but very nearly ran himself out, looking for a quick single that wasn’t there, and only just managed to get back in time.
With increasing confidence, however, the pair began to master the attack and were still together when the 200 came up in the 43rd over.
Faraz Akram actually reached his fifty first, taking 63 balls over it, but Musakanda followed in the next over, off 64 balls.
By then the team was only six runs short of victory, and this was obtained in the following over when Faraz Akram pulled successive short balls from Chinouya for two and four to finish the match.
He finished unbeaten with 56, while Musakanda made up for his earlier errors by scoring 50.
Chibvongodze finished with two wickets, but they were expensive, and the best bowler was Chisoro, who alone was able to put any pressure on the batsmen by bowling his first eight overs for only 17 runs before his last two cost 13 runs to damage his figures.
The same two teams will meet in the Logan Cup match at the same venue beginning on Tuesday.