Its the Coca-Cola Pro50 finale!


MidWest Rhinos will be hoping to avoid an unenviable hat-trick of defeats against their nemesis Mashonaland Eagles. Eagles hope to make it third time lucky when the two teams clash in the final of the Coca-Cola Pro50 Championship at Harare Sports Club today.

Rhinos have played Eagles in two finals, first in the Logan Cup final in the 2009-2010 season and in the Stanbic Twenty20 (T20) Series final during their 2010-2011 season finishing on the losing end in both occasions.

In total Rhinos, who are yet to shake their chokers tag, have lost in the final on four different occasions, twice in the Metbank Pro40, once in the Logan Cup and the Stanbic T20 Series since the advent of the franchise system during the 2009-2010 season.

In fact, Rhinos remain the only franchise team without a trophy since the advent of the system.

However, this time Rhinos will be determined to land their first piece of silverware although they will go into todays match as underdogs having finished in second place behind Eagles during the round-robin phase.

The Midlands outfit will be looking to former Zimbabwe youth international Gary Balance whose imperious form with the bat has steered them to victory in numerous occasions this season.

Balance is the leagues highest scorer in both the Pro50 and the Logan Cup with 428 runs in eight matches in the former and 1 093 runs in the latter.
He will be aiming to head back to his base at Yorkshire in the English County Championship on a high with a winners medal.

In the absence of key player Brendan Taylor, who early this week signed for Chittagong Kings in the Bangladesh Premier League, Rhinos will also look to skipper Rikki Wessels, Vusi Sibanda, Malcolm Waller, Graeme Cremer and Ed Rainsford to steer them to victory.

Meanwhile Mashonaland Eagles will bank on their returning national team stars to do the job for them following their return from national duty in New Zealand. Eagles coach revealed his skipper Stuart Matsikenyeri, Forster Mutizwa, Elton Chigumbura, Forster Mutizwa and Regis Chakabva would literally walk straight into the first team today.

We are happy to be welcoming our players who were with the national team. There are definitely our best players and we will benefit a lot from their experience and hopefully they will play a crucial role for us, said Curran.

Eagles will, however, miss their opening bowler Kyle Jarvis, who signed for Central Districts in New Zealands domestic first-class cricket competition, the Plunket Shield.

Rhinos barren championship run
2009-2010: drew with Eagles in Logan Cup final. Eagles won league after having finished on top on the points table.
2009-2010: lost by three wickets to Manicaland Mountaineers in Faithwear/Metbank Pro40 final.
2010-2011: lost by one run to Eagles in Stanbic 20 Series final.
2010-2011: lost by eight wickets to Southern Rocks in Metbank Pro40 final.