Mountaineers became the first team to win the Stanbic T20 cricket series twice after securing a 27-run win against Mashonaland Eagles in yesterday’s final at Harare Sports Club.
Mountaineers won the inaugural tournament during the during the 2009/2010 season and were yesterday back at the podium popping the champagne, celebrating their victory.
Promising seamer Shingi Masakadza — who finished the tournament as the highest wicket taker with 11 scalps — stole the show in the grand finale with an all-round performance with both bat and ball.
Masakadza had earlier played a pivotal cameo role with the bat when he scored a quick-fire 34 off 23 deliveries to add to Englishman Phil Mustard’s 31-ball 56 as Mountaineers finished on 142 for six after winning the toss and electing to bat.
Veteran all-rounder Chris Harris, who was named man-of-the-match, also vindicated his captain’s decision to bat under cloudy conditions after overnight rains as he also chipped in with an unbeaten 34 off 39 deliveries.
Shingi — who is used to his brother and Mountaineers captain, Hamilton, hogging the limelight — then went on to star with the ball after finishing with impressive figures of three wickets for 21 runs in 3,1 overs as Eagles were bowled out for 115 runs in 18,1 overs.
Eagles’ run chase got off to the worst possible start when they lost two quick wickets in the first three overs starting with their hard-hitting opener Ryan ten Doeschate for just one run in the second over.
Doeschate, who had starred in Saturday’s semi-final with a match-winning century, was brilliantly caught at point by the older of the Masakadza siblings off the bowling of his younger brother Shingi.
If Eagles thought there would be any reprieve they were given none as the dangerous Peter Trego also departed for an identical scoreline off the Australian left-arm spinner Dirk Nannes.
If Eagles were to have a chance in the match then their skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown had to play to a standstill, but in the end he could only manage five runs after being caught by Prosper Utseya to gift Masakadza his second wicket.
Hamilton-Brown’s dismissal left the defending champions in trouble at 25 for three inside five overs and in desperate need of a partnership.
Forster Mtizwa (27) and Stuart Matsikenyeri (34) revived Eagles’ run chase with a 44-run fourth-wicket stand before they both fell in consecutive overs.
Off-spinner Prosper Utseya used his experience to full advantage after he enticed Mtizwa to return a simple catch to his waiting arms.
Utseya, Nannes and Harris finished with two wickets apiece in what ended up being a fine all-round bowling display by the Manicaland-based franchise.