Southern Rocks – 215-9 in 50 overs (Travor Mutsamba 42*, Nkosilathi Nungu 41, Cephas Zhuwao 27; Tapiwa Mufudza 3/19, Tanaka Chivanga 2/34, Faraz Akram 2/40)
Alliance Health Eagles – 216-2 in 34.5 overs (Chamu Chibhabha 95*, Kudzai Maunze 82*, Nick Welch 24; Sydney Murombo 1/39, Nkosilathi Nungu 1/64)
Alliance Health Eagles won by eight wickets
Another big batting partnership powered Alliance Health Eagles to their second Pro50 Championship victory over Southern Rocks at Masvingo Sports Club on Saturday, the duo this time being Chamu Chibhabha and Kudzai Maunze.
They put on 171 for the third wicket without being separated, taking Eagles through to an eight-wicket victory with all of 15.1 overs remaining.
Rocks chose to bat on winning the toss, but the only time they seemed able to take advantage of it was during their opening partnership, when Brian Mudzinganyama and Cephas Zhuwao blazed away to such good effect that they put on 51 runs in five overs.
Zhuwao was first to go, having hit two sixes and three fours in scoring 27 off only 15 balls – he was bowled by the left-arm seam bowler Tawanda Dzikiti.
Without a run added Mudzinganyama was lbw to Faraz Akram for 20 off 18 balls, and Rocks had to rebuild, which for a long time they could not do successfully.
Ben Curran was caught off Tanaka Chivanga for 11, and eight wickets went down for 113 runs off 26 overs as the middle order failed.
The best of them was Richmond Mutumbami, who scored 26 before he was trapped lbw by Tapiwa Mufudza, who did most of the damage by taking three of the wickets.
The disaster was saved by some unexpectedly fine batting by number nine and 10, Travor Mutsamba and Nkosilathi Nungu, who adopted sensible tactics with steady play to put on 85 together for the ninth wicket in 22 overs.
They were finally parted by Faraz Akram in the 48th over, when he bowled Nungu for an admirable 41 off 72 balls, with four fours.
The last man, Sydney Murombo, also batted usefully to score 10 runs in the time remaining, both he and Mutsamba – 42 not out, the highest score of the innings – being undefeated of the eventual total of 215 for nine wickets.
Mufudza’s superb bowling brought him three wickets for only 19 runs in his 10 overs, while there were two wickets each for Akram and Chivanga.
Eagles suffered an early blow in their innings, as with only five runs to his credit Tadiwanashe Marumani was caught by Zhuwao off the bowling of Sydney Murombo to make the score 24 for one in the fourth over.
His partner in Thursday’s great stand, Nick Welch, made an aggressive start to his innings, hitting five fours, but when he had scored 24 off 18 balls he was bowled by Nungu, and two wickets were down for 45 in the seventh over.
Those, however, were the only wickets to fall, for there followed the mighty partnership between Maunze and Chibhabha that took Eagles home.
They mastered the bowling so completely that they scored at almost exactly a run a ball during their unbroken stand of 171 for the third wicket.
Chibhabha was the more aggressive of the two, finishing with 95 not out off 89 balls, and hitting two sixes and 11 fours.
Had he been able to hit the last ball of the match for a six he would have reached a century, but he could manage only a single for the winning run.
Maunze was no slouch, though, as he reached 82 off 93 balls, with two sixes and nine fours.
All of the bowlers suffered punishment, none going for under five an over.
Tuskers – 219 all out in 46.4 overs (Ainsley Ndlovu 85, Taffy Mupariwa 32, Ernest Masuku 29; Tinashe Muchawaya 4/53, Clive Chitumba 2/29, Donald Tiripano 2/35)
Mountaineers – 220-8 in 38.1 overs (Timycen Maruma 72*, Shingi Masakadza 39*, Joylord Gumbie 21; Shane Getkate 2/22, Prince Kaunda 2/33, Ainsley Ndlovu 2/48)
Mountaineers won by two wickets
Timycen Maruma and Shingi Masakadza were the heroes of Mutare on Saturday as, in an exciting Pro50 Championship match of twists and turns for both sides, they put on 72 runs in an unbroken partnership for the ninth wicket to take Mountaineers home for their second victory over table-leaders Tuskers, this by two wickets.
Tuskers, no doubt eager to avenge their defeat on Thursday, nevertheless made a poor start to their innings on being put in to bat.
Their opening batters both fell to attempted attacking strokes off Tinashe Muchawaya – Nkosana Mpofu for four and Tanu Makoni for eight – so two wickets were down for 19 in the sixth over.
Brian Chari made 12 off eight balls before he was caught at the wicket to give Muchawaya his third successive wicket.
Taffy Mupariwa did best of the specialist batters, labouring to 32 off 72 balls, but Shane Getkate went for 10 and Alvin Chiradza for three, making the score 107 for six in the 27th over.
Recently, however, Ainsley Ndlovu has improved his confidence and skill as a batter at provincial level, and this was his day to prove that.
Ernest Masuku provided solid support while Ndlovu attacked the bowling in fine style.
The pair added 73 in 13 overs before Donald Tiripano had Masuku caught at the wicket for 29 off 39 balls, the score now being 180 for seven after 40 overs.
The later batters added little, but Ndlovu swept onwards until he was the last man out in the 47th over, having scored 85 off only 69 balls, with three sixes and eight fours.
The total was 219, not a great score, but Tuskers would have settled for that after losing six for 107.
Muchawaya was the most successful bowler with four wickets, conceding 53 runs in nine overs.
There were two wickets each for Donald Tiripano and Clive Chitumba.
Mountaineers soon found themselves in trouble when they replied.
The pace bowler Prince Kaunda took a wicket in each of his first two overs, both caught at the wicket.
His victims were Chitumba for seven and the batting hero of Thursday’s match, PJ Moor, out for one this time.
When Kevin Kasuza was caught off Sheu Musekwa for three, the score was 22 for three in the fifth over and victory seemed a long way off.
Joylord Gumbie made a brisk 21 in company with Maruma, but was out to Getkate at 64 for four.
Maruma, always a determined fighter, stayed in, batting steadily, but lost a series of partners rather cheaply, until the seventh wicket went down at 121 after 22 overs.
Muchawaya came in to have a hit and made 20 off 15 balls, but he departed at 148, which left Mountaineers with only two wickets remaining and 72 runs still needed.
However, there can be few better men to come in at number 10 than Masakadza.
Masakadza played himself in and then began to push the score along quickly, making some big hits as he did so.
Maruma continued his good work and the stand began to grow – and as the score neared 200, so did hope.
Both batters did a superb job in the crisis and did not fail their team, sweeping past 200 to reach 220 with almost 12 overs in hand.
Maruma finished with 72 off 97 balls, having hit a six and eight fours, while Masakadza scored 39 off 36, with two sixes and three fours.
There were two wickets each for Kaunda, Getkate and Ndlovu, but none of them were able to make the vital breakthrough as the match reached its thrilling climax.
2022/23 PRO50 CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS TABLE