Mashonaland Eagles resurrected their campaign in the Stanbic Twenty20 cricket series with a 31-run victory over defending champions Mountaineers at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday.
On a flat wicket that made the batsmen work for their runs, Mountaineers never looked in control of the run chase.
Chasing a relatively meagre 134 for victory, last year’s winners were bowled out for 102 in 18,2 overs as Eagles successfully defended what had looked like a paltry total at the start.
It was sweet revenge for Eagles after losing to the same opponents in last year’s final and the win took them to the top of the of the points table with eight points.
Spinning all-rounder Greg Lamb was the pick of the bowlers, taking three wickets for 17 runs in his four overs while eventual man-of-the-match Ryan Butterworth claimed two wickets for 18 runs.
Eagles won the toss and elected to bat and Butterworth top-scored with an unbeaten 41 off 24 balls batting at number six to help his side recover from a shaky start to eventually finish on 133 for five in their allotted 20 overs on a flat deck.
His innings included five fours and a six which came in the sixth over.
Together with Forster Mtizwa, they shared a sixth- wicket partnership of 66 runs from 38 balls which rescued Eagles’ innings after their top-order batsmen perished in their teens.
The formidable batting line-up of the Mutare-based side could not create any meaningful partnerships as Eagles bowlers nipped wickets at regular intervals.
Butterworth led from the front removing the wicket of South African Jonathan Beukes in the sixth over with Mountaineers on when he got him caught at mid-on for nine off a massive 21 deliveries.
He would again return to haunt Mountaineers when he had the usually reliable Hamilton Masakadza caught by Raymond Price on 29 off 30 balls as he completed his bowling spell with an impressive economy rate of just over four runs an over.
The spinners took control of the match in the mid-innings and Mountaineers had no solution and the writing was on the wall when Lance Klusener’s stumps were rattled by Eagles’ player coach Andrew Hall for 22 runs.
Prosper Utseya would follow in similar fashion after being bowled by Lamb for 26 after sharing a sixth- wicket partnership of 30 runs with Klusener, which was Mountaineers’ highest in the match.