Rising Stars – 214 all out in 40.2 overs (Tinashe Kamunhukamwe 47, Ryan Burl 42, Tafadzwa Tsiga 38; Ernest Masuku 4/49, Ainsley Ndlovu 2/41, Stephen Chimhamhiwa 2/60)
Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers – 215-4 in 45.5 overs (Brian Chari 79, Craig Ervine 63*, Richmond Mutumbami 23; Tinashe Muchawaya 2/37, Brendan Mavuta 1/50)
Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers won by six wickets
Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers kept up their challenge for the Pro50 Championship with a comfortable six-wicket victory over Rising Stars at Harare Sports Club today.
A dynamic innings by Tinashe Kamunhukamwe gave the Stars a fine start, but apart from Ryan Burl the middle order failed to build on this against good bowling from Ernest Masuku, and they were unable to set Tuskers a target that would test them with Brian Chari and Craig Ervine in fine form.
Tuskers began this match top of the table with 10 points and a superior net run rate to Mountaineers while Rising Stars were close behind them both with nine points.
On a mild sunny morning at Harare Sports Club, Tuskers won the toss and put Rising Stars into bat.
Chris Mpofu opened the bowling with Stephen Chimhamhiwa against the Stars openers, Kamunhukamwe and Tafadzwa Tsiga.
Kamunhukamwe was as aggressive as usual, and first pulled and then on-drove Chimhamhiwa for sixes in his first over.
In Chimhamhiwa’s next over, he did better still, with a very high six over long-off.
Tsiga was twice dropped in Mpofu’s third over, a difficult chance to mid-on and a sharp return to the bowler.
Ainsley Ndlovu replaced Chimhamhiwa, who had conceded 35 runs in two overs, but Kamunhukamwe hit him too for six over long-on, holding up the game as the ball could not be found for several minutes.
Kamunhukamwe proceeded to hit two more leg-side sixes in Ndlovu’s next over.
The experienced Mpofu, bowling mainly to Tsiga, escaped most of the carnage, until Kamunhukamwe tried to pull him for six, but was brilliantly caught one-handed on the midwicket boundary by Ndlovu.
He had scored 47 off only 17 balls, with six sixes and just one four, and the score was 74 for one in the 11th over.
Tsiga now became more aggressive and batted brightly for a while before John Nyumbu spun a ball in to him sharply and bowled him out for 38 off 60 balls; the score was now 95 for two in the 15th over.
Tarisai Musakanda scored only three before he was well caught low down at slip by Nyumbu off the bowling of Masuku; 98 for three.
Taffy Mupariwa brought up the team hundred in the 17th over, but was then given out caught at the wicket slashing at a rather wide ball from Masuku for 19; 110 for four, and the innings was in danger of collapse.
Burl and Tony Munyonga began carefully, and then Burl drove a delivery from Nyumbu on to the top of the clubhouse roof, and this time the ball could not be retrieved at all.
Munyonga made only a single, though, before he miscued a drive and was caught at extra cover; 128 for five.
Mohammed Faraz Akram looked confident from the start and a good partnership with Burl began to develop.
Burl, on 20, had a fortunate escape when he skyed an attempted big hit against Nyumbu, but midwicket running round could not hold a very difficult chance.
Otherwise, they were settling well when Faraz Akram slashed a ball from Chimhamhiwa high over the slips but was superbly caught by Mpofu running round from the third man; he made 18 and the score was 157 for six in the 28th over.
Brandon Mavuta began in his usual confident way, flicking his second ball over long leg for six.
The pair put on 27 and again hopes rose for another good partnership, but the drinks interval yet again brought a wicket, as Burl (42) slashed a catch to the wicketkeeper at 184 for seven after 32 overs.
Richard Ngarava skyed a ball for a single and then skyed another to be caught at mid-off off Masuku; 194 for eight.
Mavuta was next to go after scoring 24, skying a catch to midwicket off Masuku, the bowler’s fifth wicket, and finally, the last man, Rugare Magarira, was trapped lbw by Ndlovu without scoring, leaving Tinashe Muchawaya not out with a useful 13.
The total was 214 all out in the 41st over, with Ndlovu and Chimhamhiwa each taking two wickets, but the bowling honours going to Masuku, who took four for 49 with his persistent seam bowling.
It was a disappointing total for Rising Stars after such a good start, and there was time for Tuskers to begin their innings before lunch.
Ngarava and Muchawaya opened the bowling to Cunningham Ncube and Shoun Handirisi, neither of whom had yet passed 20 in a Pro50 match.
However, in the six overs possible before lunch, they put on 20 runs without loss, of which Ncube had eight and Handirisi 12.
They stayed together until the score reached 34, in the 12th over, when they chanced a risky single and Ncube was narrowly run out for 15, thanks to a direct hit on the stumps by Munyonga.
Handirisi did not last much longer, being well caught in the covers off a miscued shot from the bowling of Muchawaya; 37 for two in the 14th over and neither opening batsman was able to improve his Pro50 best score.
Chari and Richmond Mutumbami were now together, scoring comfortably, Chari playing a very responsible game.
Mutumbami was rather more experimental, and his shot selection eventually let him down, as he tried unsuccessfully to sweep a ball from Mavuta and was trapped lbw for 23; 86 for three after 24 overs.
Craig Ervine joined Chari and showed sound form, pushing the score along effortlessly, while Chari reached his fifty off 76 balls.
Ervine took only 53 balls for his fifty, without ever looking in a hurry, but then Chari, on 79, drove expansively at a full-length ball from Muchawaya and was bowled.
The pair had added 112 runs in less than 20 overs, and the score was now 198 for four in the 44th over; 17 more runs needed for victory.
The next man in was Allan Chigoma, making his début for Tuskers.
He scored five not out, while Ervine finished the match with 4.1 overs to spare, making 63 not out off 63 balls, with five fours and two sixes.
Muchawaya, with two wickets, was the most successful of the Stars bowlers, but he was expensive, going for 37 off five overs.
More economical were Ngarava and Magarira, who took no wickets but conceded only 29 runs off nine overs and 27 off eight respectively.