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Zimbabwe Cricket: Taylor’s ton in vain as Eagles beat Rhinos

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Fine innings by Brendan Taylor (110) and Prince Masvaure (90) were not enough to give Midlands Rhinos victory in their Pro50 Championship match at Harare Sports Club today against Harare Metropolitan Eagles, who turned in a fine team effort to win the one-dayer by five wickets.

Rhinos were able to play their strongest team of the season, with only four of their top players missing.

On a warm, sunny day, with the field and pitch in excellent condition, Rhinos won the toss and decided to bat.

Bothwell Chapungu began his innings with a straight drive for four in the opening over, bowled by Trevor Garwe, but this was his only scoring stroke as in Garwe’s next over he sliced a catch to Liam Roche at backward point; eight for one.

His opening partner, Tendai Maruma, did not last much longer -- he struggled to get the score moving and had scored three off 12 balls when he miscued a drive and was caught at mid-off, also off Garwe, with the total 13 for two.

Masvaure was playing his strokes well, but Taylor played himself in with care.

The medium-pace bowlers Chamu Chibhabha and Nathan Waller kept a tight rein on the scoring, and the batsmen were restricted to a run rate of a little more than three an over.

Masvaure reached his hard-working fifty off 78 balls, out of a total of 91, and Taylor gradually began to open up.

Taylor drove Waller past extra cover to bring up the team hundred in the 25th over.

He was now getting into his stride and scoring off almost every delivery, bringing up his fifty off 66 balls.

Taylor swept past Masvaure in the sixties, but on 77 he was reprieved, as the fine-leg fielder failed to hold a difficult chance off a mistimed scoop.

He reached his century off 96 balls, when Masvaure was on 80 and the score 197 for two in the 37th over.

Apparently satisfied, he hit at everything and in the next over drove a catch straight to long-on off the bowling of Tapiwa Mufudza.

He had scored 110 off 101 balls, with 10 fours and four sixes, and the total was 208 for three in the 38th over.

Masvaure was unfortunate to fall for 90, trying to cut a ball from Roche that was too close to him and dragging it on to his stumps.

He faced 121 balls and hit nine fours and a six; the score was 244 for four in the 44th over.

Tendai Chisoro scored a quick 10, while Nyasha Mayavo came and went for one in the dying overs.

Neville Madziva scored 11, while PJ Moor finished unbeaten with 29 and Trevor Gwandu with three.

None of them could score fast enough to take the score to 300, but it still left Eagles a difficult target.

Roche with his off-breaks was the most successful bowler with three for 43; there were two wickets for Garwe, but Chibhabha was the most economical bowler with just 23 runs scored off his seven overs.

Eagles opened their batting with Cephas Zhuwao and Chibhabha against the bowling of Madziva and Mike Chinouya.

Their main hope of chasing the target lay with the aggressive Zhuwao, and he began in fine form with two fours in Madziva’s first over, three in his second and another two boundaries in his third.

After five overs the score was 44, of which Zhuwao had 31 off 17 balls.

When he faced Michael Chinouya, he mistimed a pull stroke attempted to the wrong ball, but the power in the stroke still carried it over the boundary at wide long-on for six.

Chisoro ended Zhuwao’s innings at 37 off 26 balls, though, as he swept a ball straight to the fielder placed at backward square leg; 67 for one in the ninth over.

Chibhabha and Regis Chakabva now kept the score ticking over in quieter fashion, and the 100 came up in the 16th over.

Chibhabha reached his fifty off 59 balls with a drive for six over the head of the bowler, Richard Muzhange.

At 154 for one in the 25th over, Eagles were doing very well, but Chakabva went for a big hit off Chisoro and was bowled for 31, scored off 48 balls.

Chibhabha soon followed, with 64 off 82 balls; he went for a big hit off Maruma and was caught at deepish midwicket, making the score 167 for three in the 28th over.

Tino Mutombodzi and Elton Chigumbura were now at the crease, both potentially dangerous batsmen, but Chigumbura was out for 12, stumped off a wide from Chapungu; 188 for four in the 33rd over, and still up with the required run rate.

The 200 came up in the 35th over, and soon afterwards Gary Chirimuuta was dropped off a low chance when he had 20.

However, he went for 22, flashing outside the off stump to Madziva and edging to the keeper; 236 for five in the 42nd over.

Mutombodzi shortly afterwards escaped being caught from a skyer towards third man when the fielder quite misjudged the ball.

Nathan Waller now began to cut loose and defeat for the Rhinos became inevitable, barring a near miracle.

Waller finished unbeaten with 33 off 18 balls, with four fours and two sixes, while Mutombodzi, who hit the winning boundary in the penultimate over, had 48 from 71 balls.

Chisoro was the most successful and economical bowler, taking the vital wickets of Zhuwao and Chakabva for 36 runs in his 10 overs.

In the end perhaps the most important factor was that Rhinos took a little too long to rebuild their innings after losing their openers cheaply, while Eagles benefited from the hitting powers of Zhuwao, which put them well ahead of the required run rate and meant that the later batsmen were never under undue pressure.

Thirty-six extras given away by Rhinos, including 25 runs from wides, also played their part.

Meanwhile, in the other Pro50 Championship match played at Queens Sports Club today, Vusi Sibanda scored an unbeaten 87 to power Manicaland Mountaineers to a five-wicket win over the defending champions Bulawayo Metropolitan Tuskers.

The hosts won the toss and elected to bat first, but they laboured to 169 all out in 44.1 overs, with their best effort with the bat coming from the captain Richmond Mutumbami who scored 38, including four boundaries and one six, off 51 balls.

Wellington Masakadza and Victor Nyauchi each grabbed three wickets, while there were two apiece for Innocent Kaia and Donald Tiripano for Mountaineers.

Despite putting up a paltry total, Tuskers came out all guns blazing and had Mountaineers reeling at 11 for three in the fourth over before Sibanda and Timycen Maruma shared a 125-run stand for the fourth wicket that rescued the innings and left Mountaineers on the cusp of victory.

Maruma made 54, with seven fours and two sixes, off 59 deliveries.

Sibanda, who remained standing with a knock of 87 that came off 90 balls and included 11 boundaries and one maximum, comfortably steered his side to 170 for five in 33.4 overs and victory by five wickets.

John Nyumbu and Sean Williams each took two wickets, but their efforts were not enough to give Tuskers a win at home.

The next matches to be played are Logan Cup fixtures between the same teams, in Harare and Bulawayo, beginning on Sunday.

Scores:

Midlands Rhinos – 283-7 in 50 overs (Brendan Taylor 110, Prince Masvaure 90, Peter Moor 29*; Liam Roche 3/43, Trevor Garwe 2/36)

Harare Metropolitan Eagles – 287-5 in 48.2 overs (Chamu Chibhabha 64, Tino Mutombodzi 48*, Cephas Zhuwao 37; Tendai Chisoro 2/36)

Harare Metropolitan Eagles won by five wickets