Mountaineers unearth gem in T20 final

HARARE - Emerging Mountaineers off spinner Tapiwa Mufudza stole the limelight taking four vital wickets that were instrumental in his side’s seven-wicket win over Mashonaland Eagles in the Twenty20 final here yesterday.

The victory born out of a clinical all-round display saw the Mutare-based Mountaineers side pen yet another piece of history in this shorter version of the game.

The Mutare-based franchise was the first team to win the Stanbic T20 Championship in its inception and they are now the first team to win this domestic T20 competition.

Mountaineers coach Gary Brent was happy with putting another trophy in the cabinet adding that his team are now making winning a habit.

“Couldn’t be happier, I’m absolutely delighted and we are just on top of the world,” Brent told the Daily News after the match.

“The way the guys won, I thought it was fantastic. It was a very critical performance, the bowlers were superb and it was nice to watch the youngster Mufudza, who hasn’t played much in the season being given a chance and coming up with a match winning performance.

“He’s definitely a star in the making. The batters chipped in nicely and delivered the magnificent victory.”

Mashonaland Eagles captain Stuart Matsikenyeri won the toss and elected to bat on a slow wicket, a decision that later backfired as the Coca-Cola Pro 50 champions laboured to 106 runs all out after 19.3overs.

The rain interrupted match was later reduced to 19 overs with a revised target of 103 runs for Mountaineers to win.

The total never looked threatening from the onset with Mark Pettini scoring 40 runs from 37 and captain Tino Mawoyo’s 20-ball 26 runs knock set up the victory.

Mountaineers reached 106 runs for the loss of three wickets inside 17.1 overs to win the trophy with 11 balls to spare.

Timycen Maruma (14) and former Mash Eagles batsman Greg Lamb (7) were undefeated for Mountaineers.

Earlier in the afternoon, match-man-of-the-match Mufudza removed Mash Eagles’ opener Cephas Zhuwao with the second ball of the match.

It was a remarkable recovery by Mufudza as his first delivery had been whipped for a maximum by the left-hander.

The 22-year-old off spinner then got successive wickets for his team accounting for Mash Eagles star batsmen Sikandar Raza Butt (15) and Chamu Chibhabha (nine) on the first and fourth ball of the fifth over.

Eagles were left reeling on 36 for three after that spell bounding over from Mufudza.

The novice’s fourth and final wicket came in the 16th over when Nathan Waller was caught at the dip mid-wicket boundary by Natsai Mushangwe.

The promising spinner finished with figures of four wickets for 14 runs in four overs.

Mash Eagles skipper Matsikenyeri and batsman Regis Chakabva top scored with 22 and 21 runs respectively before falling to the bowling of Mushangwe and Lamb.

Mushangwe and seamer Shingi Masakadzapicked finished with two wickets apiece.

Mashonaland Eagles coach Stephen Mangongo blamed the defeat on poor shot selection from his batsmen.

“Their decision making contributed to the downfall, they played too many big shots and that was the turning point because the ball wasn’t coming to the bat,” Mangongo said.

“However, the fighting spirit in the boys is very amazing, defending 103 runs and getting into the last over shows what kind of players they are, they are serious about their game and always want to win but unfortunately they came out second best.”

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