Head Zimpapers Sports
FINALISTS Eagles suffered their first defeat of the 2023/24 Pro50 Championship cricket tournament, losing by 45 runs chasing an improbable 351 against Rhinos at Kwekwe Sports Club yesterday.
In yesterday’s other match, Southern Rocks beat Tuskers by five wickets with three overs to spare chasing 283 at Masvingo Sports Club.
Eagles completed their round-robin matches yesterday and are guaranteed pole position while Rhinos are now favourites to finish second and set up a potentially explosive title decider set for December 2 at Harare Sports Club.
Rhinos still have to face the Southern Rocks twice at Kwekwe Sports Club to complete their round robin matches.
Southern Rocks, who already have a healthier net run rate need to win one and avoid defeat in the other to sneak into the final ahead of Rhinos.
Tuskers and defending champions, Mountaineers, are now out of the running for the final as they have lost five of their six matches to date.
Man-of-the-match Antum Naqvi smashed 146 runs in 117 balls, 19 fours and four sixes at number three as Rhinos recovered from 26/1 in the eighth over to post 350/6 in their 50 overs and then took 2-47 in 10 overs with the ball.
Naqvi featured in a 134-run stand for the second wicket with opener Takudzwanaishe Kaitano who made 84 from 94 balls, hitting 11 fours and a six.
A Chevrons hopeful, Naqvi partnered Tarisai Musakanda for a third wicket stand of 119 with the latter making 33 off 34 balls in the two century stands of the innings.
Tashinga Musekiwa added a brisk 25 off 12 balls at number seven. Captain Faraz Akram led the Eagles attack with four wickets for 75 in 10 overs while Tanaka Chivanga was the only other bowler to take wickets, claiming two for 52 in 10 overs.
In their reply, Eagles made 71 in nine overs for the first wicket and looked in the game at 189/3 in the 27th over before collapsing to 225/8 six overs later.
The game was over at that stage although Eagles’ ninth wicket partnership batted for 15 overs before Tapiwa Mufudza was run out for 36 off 53 balls leaving the score on 299/9 in the 50th over.
However, 74 runs in 15 overs suggests they wanted to bat through the innings more than chase the huge target.
Brandon Mavuta led the Rhinos attack with four wickets for 60 in 10 overs.
In Masvingo, Trevor Gwandu was the man-of-the-match for the hosts for his five wickets for 72 in 8.5 overs with the ball as Tuskers were dismissed for 282 with a ball remaining.
Tuskers will be disappointed by the way their innings moved from 215/3 in the 40th over to 282 all out nine overs later – their last seven wickets fell for just 67 runs.
The visitors had earlier been reduced to 30/3 in 7.3 overs before captain Brian Chari and Milton Shumba made 185 for the fourth wicket.
Chari fell for 113 off 133 balls while Shumba made 77 off 95 balls.
They were the only batsmen to score more than 17 runs in the innings with the Southern Rocks bowlers adding 30 extras, 19 of them wides to the score.
Roy Kaia led the scoring for Southern Rocks with 82 off 99 balls while captain Richmond Mutumbami added 69 from 55 and wicketkeeper Tafadzwa Tsiga was unbeaten on 44 off 49 balls.