BY AUSTIN KARONGA
TAKASHINGA Patriots 2 lifted the National Premier League (NPL) T20 Blast Trophy with a three-run win against Uprising Cricket Club in a nerve-racking final under lights at Harare Sports Club on Saturday night.
All-rounder, Tashinga Mushekiwa held his nerves to deny Uprising the15 runs needed off the last over as the Highfield boys claimed the T20 cricket bragging rights.
Takashinga 2 pocketed a US$20 000 cheque for winning this year's edition, while Uprising received US$10 000.
Gladiators who finished third received US$5 000, while Takashinga 1 took home with $2 500 after finishing in fourth place.
Chitungwiza side's captain, Luke Jongwe, elected to field after the toss. Unperturbed by the toss decision, Takashinga 2 got off to a blistering start with hard hitter, Cephas Zhuwao and his captain, Kudzai Maunze, racing to 45 runs inside 4.2 overs before the later departed for 21.
Zhuwao would soon follow for 36 runs with the score on 69/2 after 6.5 overs. Highflying, Antum Naqvi continued on with his onslaught starring in a 97-run partnership with left hander, Faraz Akram for the fourth wicket before Akram fell to a stunning catch by Ryan Burl at long on for 35 runs.
Uprising packed Takashinga 2 back immediately after Akram's dismissal on 178/4 taking three quick wickets- Musekiwa, Tafadzwa Tsiga and Trevor Gwandu all without troubling the scorers.
The Naqvi show eventually ended on 91 after he was caught behind by wicketkeeper, Ryan Kamwemba off Jongwe's bowling. By then, Takashinga 2 had raced to 199/9 with only four balls left in the innings and their tail took them to 207/9 in their allotted overs.
Chasing 208 for victory, Uprising lost opener, Takudzwanaishe Kaitano for 12 runs and were 26/1 after 3.1 overs.
Opener, Nick Welch and Craig Ervines added a 131-run partnership for the second wicket. The Chevrons skipper scored 74 after being trapped plum by Naqvi in a potential turning point of the match to leave Uprising on 157/2 after 14.5 overs. Burl was dismissed for eight and Welch followed for a deserving half century, 60 but the run rate kept increasing while the batting options decreased. With the exception of Brian Bennett (24) and Aisha Chibanda (8) despite the match delicately poised heading into the final over, Takashinga 2 who had looked like there were starring the barrel became more alive in the field. Uprising ended their chase on 204/7 eventually surrendering the US$20 000 cheque by three runs.
Earlier in the last few weeks, Takashinga 1 had bagged the NPL Championship and the win by their younger side extends their hegemony on club cricket.