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Mountaineers Beat Rocks To Clinch Pro50 Championship Title

Mountaineers Zim Cricket

Mountaineers – 307-9 in 50 overs (PJ Moor 76, Wellington Masakadza 66, Donald Tiripano 45; Dylan Hondo 4/25, Cuthbert Musoko 4/59, Roy Kaia 1/32)

Southern Rocks – 236 all out in 45.5 overs (Innocent Kaia 82, Sikandar Raza 76, Cephas Zhuwao 28; John Masara 4/43, Tony Munyonga 2/30, Wellington Masakadza 2/39)

Mountaineers won by 71 runs

Mountaineers clinched the Pro50 Championship title after defeating Southern Rocks by 71 runs in an exciting final played at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

PJ Moor and Kevin Kasuza gave Mountaineers the ideal start on winning the toss, as they put together a superb opening partnership of 126 in just over 20 overs.

Moor, back from injury, was in blistering form and attacked the bowling powerfully, taking advantage of the opening powerplay overs to reach fifty off only 26 balls.

He was particularly severe on the pace bowlers, but found it harder to get on top of the slower bowlers, especially Dylan Hondo, who bowled a superb spell of left-arm spin.

Moor, frustrated, finally went for a big hit, only to be caught on the midwicket boundary for 76, scored off 58 balls.

His brilliant innings included 12 fours and a six.

Hondo began a collapse that could have shattered the innings, as in quick succession he pulled off two return catches to dismiss Kasuza for 42 and Kudzai Sauramba for two.

He also had Timycen Maruma caught at slip second ball.

Mountaineers were now tottering on 132 for four in the 25th over, and the innings was at a crucial stage.

However, the middle order came good to rescue the innings.

Tony Munyonga led the way with 36 off 32 balls, with two sixes and three fours, before he was bowled by Roy Kaia at 179 for five.

Then came a magnificent partnership of 99 in 14 overs between Donald Tiripano, 45 off 58 balls, and Wellington Masakadza, 66 off 49 balls.

They took the score to 278, and after they and Shingi Masakadza all went in quick succession, some powerful blows from Victor Nyauchi, with 14 not out off eight balls, saw Mountaineers past the 300-run mark.

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Their total after 50 overs was 307 for nine.

Amid this carnage, Hondo’s bowling figures shine out like a beacon – four wickets for only 25 runs in his 10 overs, which included three maidens.

Cuthbert Musoko also took four wickets, the last four to fall, but they cost him 59 runs off seven overs.

Sikandar Raza also bowled well for 42 runs off his 10 overs without taking a wicket.

Innocent Kaia opened the Rocks innings with Cephas Zhuwao, always a man to be feared in one-day cricket, against the bowling of Tendai Chatara and Nyauchi.

Zhuwao scored two singles off the first six balls he faced, like a dormant volcano, and then began his assault by hitting Chatara for six.

He followed with two fours off three deliveries from Nyauchi, and then came another six off Chatara.

To the immense relief of Mountaineers, though, Chatara caught him off the bowling of Nyauchi for 28 off 18 balls in the sixth over, with the score on 48.

Innocent Kaia, however, was able to score freely, and he was now partnered by Tadiwanashe Marumani, who scored 17 off 33 balls before being bowled by Munyonga at 102 for two in the 18th over.

Innocent Kaia reached his fifty off 60 balls, and his new partner, Raza, soon hit Munyonga for six.

The pair continued to build their partnership soundly and after 30 overs Rocks were well on course for a possible victory at 165 for two.

The partnership came to an end at 176, though, when Kaia retired hurt after suffering cramps on 76, and this proved to be the turning point of the match.

He was replaced by Brian Mudzinganyama, who immediately saw Raza reach his fifty off 46 balls.

Mudzinganyama did not last long, being caught and bowled by Wellington Masakadza for seven at 200 for three in the 36th over.

Another 108 runs were now needed in 14 overs, but there were still seven wickets in hand if Innocent Kaia was able to resume.

Roy Kaia now came to the crease, but scored only three before he was caught off Wellington Masakadza at 211 for four in the 39th over.

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Two overs later the balance of the match shifted completely as Rocks suffered a bitter blow in the loss of Raza, who was caught by Moor off the leg-spinner John Masara for a fine 76.

He faced 71 balls, hitting two sixes and seven fours, and this vital wicket, at 217 for five in the 41st over and a run rate of almost 10 an over now, put Mountaineers right on top.

Innocent Kaia now returned to the crease, but he was soon out, caught by Maruma off Masara for 82 – altogether he faced 105 balls and hit a six and eight fours, and left with the score 228 for six in the 43rd over.

Without addition, Larvet Masunda was caught by Chatara off Munyonga for four, and Rocks were now without hope.

The end came quickly, as the tail collapsed and the team was all out for 236 in the 46th over.

When the pressure was on, they lost their last eight wickets for only 36 runs, and their last seven batters scored only 21 runs among them.

Masara, who did most of the cleaning up at the end, took four wickets for 43 runs in his 10 overs, while fellow spinners Wellington Masakadza and Munyonga took two each.

It was a fine victory for Mountaineers, and will do much to make up for their failure to win the Logan Cup this season.

After shining with both bat and ball in the final, Wellington Masakadza was voted the player of the match.

Ben Compton of Mountaineers was not available for the game but he had done enough during the round-robin stage of the one-day competition to earn the batter of the tournament accolade.

Sean Williams of Tuskers claimed the best bowler honours.

Raza was rewarded for his impressive all-round performances as he was named the Pro50 Championship player of the tournament.

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