HARARE - Matabeleland Tuskers and Mashonaland Eagles consolidated their respective first and second place positions on the log table with victories in the Pro 50 Championship cricket matches on Saturday.
Log leaders Tuskers are on 18 points, second-placed Eagles have 13 points while Mountaineers and Mid West Rhinos with nine and four points respectively sit on third and fourth place.
Tuskers completed an easy 35-run victory over visiting Mid West Rhinos at Bulawayo Sports Club.
Rhinos batsman, Malcolm Waller’s half century of 62 runs from 77 balls, his team’s top score went in vain as the spin-seam combination of Sean Williams and Chris Mpofu destroyed the visitors.
Tendai Chisoro and Bothwell Chapungu contributed 43 and 37 runs respectively.
Both Williams and Mpofu picked three wickets apiece as they extinguished hopes of a Rhinos comeback in what had appeared a modest total by the home side.
The visitors elected to field after winning the toss and the hosts were bowled out for 223 runs in 49.2 overs.
Craig Ervine followed up his 103 runs against Mash Eagles in Harare with 70 runs while Williams and Nkosana Mpofu weighed in with 48 and 40 runs respectively.
Rhinos’ left-arm spinner Kuda Munyede enjoyed his outing on the field with four wickets while seamer Michael Chinouya took three wickets.
The real battle was however, in the capital where Mash Eagles played host to Mountaineers at Harare Sports Club.
The two sides were fired up for the battle for second position on the table as they got into the match tied on nine points apiece.
Sikandar Raza Butt made it two tons in two games scoring a 97-ball 104 runs before he was caught by Roy Kaia off seamer Donald Tiripano.
Raza had scored an unbeaten 106 from 111 runs against Tuskers prior to the clash against Mountaineers.
New Eagles signing Brendan Taylor also recorded his first century for the Harare-based franchise before falling for 101 runs from 107.
Taylor and Raza added 178 runs in 168 balls for the second wicket partnership before the latter was dismissed.
The match was reduced to 44 overs after a heavy downpour midway into the Eagles’ innings.
The hosts, who had won the toss and elected to bat first, then totalled 267-5 in their 44 overs.
Mountaineers’ chase started on the wrong foot with the visitors losing two wickets for 31 runs within the first seven overs.
This left Eagles in a comfortable place ahead of the possibility of using the Duck Worth Lewis method.
Hamilton Masakadza defied the Eagles’ bowlers with a ball-a-run 93 but when the heavens opened again in the later on Mountaineers had lost four wickets for 172 runs after 30 overs.
With the D/L being the only reliable method to produce a match result, Mashonaland Eagles snatched a one run victory over their counterparts.
The matches continue tomorrow with Mashonaland Eagles travelling to Kwekwe for a date against Mid West Rhinos while Mountaineers will host Matabeleland Tuskers at Mutare Sports Club.
The teams will play one more round of matches on January 25 before the national team players fly out to Dubai for a training camp ahead of the 2015 Cricket World Cup which starts next month in Australia and New Zealand.