Player-coach Andrew Hall was the hero for Mashonaland Eagles, shining with both bat and ball to steer his team to a one-run victory in a tightly contested Stanbic Bank Twenty20 cricket final at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Hall bowled a superb last over which earned him the man-of-the-match award after he restricted Rhinos to just six runs in the last over they needed seven runs to win the final.
Rhinos were eventually restricted to 166 for six in their allotted 20 overs in response to Eagles’ 167 for seven.
The South African all-rounder did not claim any wickets, but his contributions were strongly felt towards at the end of both innings.
Earlier Hall gave the Eagles’ total a competitive edge after scoring 23 runs off seamer Paul Franks in his last over before finishing unbeaten on 39 off 17 balls after his side had won the toss and elected to bat.
It was second time lucky for Mash Eagles, after falling at the final hurdle to Mountaineers in last year’s final and the match was also value for money in terms of entertainment for the fans who thronged the match venue.
Nick Compton had set the platform for Eagles after he finished as the tournament’s leading run scorer with a crucial 74 off 55 balls.
Compton, who scored 233 runs this series, was eventually run out by Graeme Cremer in the 16th over, trying to take an impossible run but was sent back by teammate Forster Mtizwa.
He shared a second-wicket partnership of 85 off 73 balls with left-hander Prince Masvaure before the latter departed for 32.
It was also a good send-off for Eagles’ skipper Grant Flower as he announced his retirement from cricket before the game and befitting of his illustrious career, it was a special moment for him when he was handed the trophy.
Eagles enjoyed the majority of the support from the good crowd that thronged Harare Sports Club but after Vusimuzi Sibanda struck 44 off 30 balls in a third-wicket partnership of 62 off 44 balls, there were doubts if they could manage to defend their total.
However, after Sibanda’s departure Lou Vincent should have taken Rhinos home, but departed after scoring 37 at a run-a-ball with two overs to go and his team needing 11 runs for victory.
Ryan ten Doeschate bowled well in the 19th over, restricting Rhinos to just four runs.
Hall then took the ball and produced some extraordinary death bowling that eventually carried the day for Eagles in the last over.