TAKASHINGA Patriots 1 showed lots of bravery and resilience to snatch the 2023 edition of the National Premier League following a three-wicket win over former champions, Gladiators at Old Hararians Sports Club on Wednesday.
Heading into the final round of matches, Takashinga 1 sat in third position with 100 points, with defending champions Gladiators leading the standings on 110 points.
Takashinga 2 were in second place with 106 while Uprising were in fourth position with 100 points.
Takashinga 1 and Uprising had assumed the role of kingmaker as the likely scenarios would have seen one of them getting into second place.
The Highfield-based side summoned its experienced players including former Zimbabwe captains, Hamilton Masakadza and Chamu Chibhabha underlining just how serious they value this premier domestic club cricket competition. Captained by Roy Kaia and his national team sibling, Innocent, the team also lined up vicious talent in Joylord Gumbie, Wellington Masakadza and Tanaka Chivanga who all turned out for the Chevrons. Fringe player but explosive opener, Tinashe kamunhukamwe also made the team together with franchise player, Cunningham Ncube.
Gladiators on the other hand had the youthful Wessly Madhevere leading the way with a century, a 101-ball 117, Tony Munyonga weighing in with 43, Clive Madande (28) and Milton Shumba (3) all famous faces in the Chevrons. The Chitungwiza-based side totalled 270 all out inside 43.4 overs and having led the log standings from week one, they simply needed to beat Takashinga 1 to defend their title.
However, they were blown away by the Kaia brothers’ half centuries, Roy top scoring with 57 runs from 59 balls and Innocent adding 52. Elder statesman, Hamilton Masakadza chipped in with 43 runs from 34 balls featuring in a half ton partnership with Chibhabha (27) while Kamunhukamwe and Gumbie scored 36 and 21 runs up the order respectively. Cromen Zinyama picked three wickets for Gladiators in vain while Munashe Zata took two with Shumba and Owen Muzondo claiming one each.
Chibhabha, who had earlier predicted tough times for Gladiators ahead of the clash after the deposed champions had dropped their first set of points following a defeat against Westside of Mutare, said they always believed they had an outside chance of putting their hands on the trophy.
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“Like I said leading up to the final encounter against Gladiators, I knew they were going to regret losing that game to Westside. When the game started today (Wednesday), they had a really good start. Wessly was dominating nicely and they were cruising at a really good rate dominating us. We stayed calm and we managed to bring the game back. They were set for 350+ but we managed to bring the game back,” Chibhabha told NewsDay Sport.