Home » Sports » Eagles Lift Pro-50 Championship

The Mashonaland Eagles held their nerve to sneak home by four wickets and with three balls to spare in a nail-biting Pro-50 championship final against arch-rivals Matabeleland Tuskers at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on Saturday.

Half-centuries by Tinotenda Mutombodzi and Chamunorwa Chibhabha, together with an unbeaten cameo by Joylord Gumbie were responsible for the successful run-chase by the visiting Eagles.

Chasing 266 runs in a pressure final, the Eagles began competently with the opening pair of Simbarashe Gupo and Chibhabha putting on a 60-run stand inside the first mandatory powerplay.

The Tuskers’ new-ball bowlers of Tawanda Mupariwa and Brian Vitori failed to find penetration upfront and were guilty of bowling at least one boundary ball per over, this to which the Eagles openers were readily on hand to dispatch to the boundary.

Tuskers skipper Godwill Mamhiyo then opted to ring the changes, and in a bid to change the pace of the ball he turned to Sean Williams, who is fresh from the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup. Williams immediately found the much needed breakthrough when he had Gupo caught at slip by John Nyumbu for 21 runs.

Chibhabha continued stroking the ball away for runs with relative ease which allowed number three batsman Regis Chakabva to get his eye in from the other end.

Subject to thoughtfully-placed field settings and mounting dot ball pressure created by the Tuskers bowling outfit, Chakabva decided to increase the scoring rate, only to gift Christopher Mpofu his first wicket of the game with a chip that found Mamhiyo at mid-on for 14.

Two overs later another wicket fell, when another ICC Cricket World Cup returnee Sikandar Raza Butt mistimed a Tawanda Mupariwa shot-ball to mid-wicket for two.

At 89 for three into the 19th over, Tuskers began to squeeze even more with disciplined bowling and committed fielding, and even though Chibhabha brought up his half-century amidst that pressure, the home side stuck to the task at hand.

The pressure eventually paid dividends when veteran left-arm spinner Keith Dabengwa trapped the danger-man Chibhabha for a well-played 59.

At this point, the momentum of the game somewhat fizzled during the middle overs when Tuskers had men patrolling the boundary while the Eagles middle order duo of Tinotenda Mutombodzi and Ryan Burl picked the singles on offer.

The two put on 56 runs for the fifth wicket stand and looked well on course to eclipse the Tuskers total, until a fatal mix up while running between the wickets resulted in Burl being run out for 15.

With the asking rate swelling, Mutombodzi threw caution to the wind with some aggressive shots that resulted in six fours and one six in his 76-ball 79. – Zimcricket

Source : The Herald