Eagles clinch Pro50 Champs title Eagles are the 2023/24 Pro50 Championship winners.

EAGLES have claimed the 2023/24 Pro50 Championship cricket trophy after defeating Rhinos by five wickets in the final of the provincial one-day competition played at Takashinga Cricket Club in Harare on Saturday. 

On winning the toss, Eagles opted to field and after six overs it seemed as though the match was effectively over as some good pace bowling from Richard Ngarava and Ameer Hamza shattered the early Rhinos batting. 

Takudzwanashe Kaitano made a dashing start, but in the third over he lost Bright Matsiwe, caught at the wicket off Ngarava without scoring, and in the same bowler’s next over he himself skyed a catch and was caught for a dashing 28 off 22 balls. 

Then came the greatest blow, as Antum Naqvi, the hero of several Rhinos victories this season, was caught at the wicket off Hamza’s fourth ball without getting off the mark, and the score was 38 for three. 

The crisis deepened when Ben Curran was given out caught at slip off the bowling of Wessly Madhevere for nine to make the score 50 for four, followed by Nyasha Mayavo, another wicket-keeping catch, off Hamza, for seven — 65 for five. 

Fortunately, there was fighting spirit left in the Rhinos team, as Brandon Mavuta joined Prince Masvaure and the pair fought superbly to add 78 for the sixth wicket in 18 overs before Masvaure fell to Hamza for 48.

The eighth wicket went down at 151, but there followed two more fighting stands, firstly by Mavuta and Muhammad Adil with 47 together before Mavuta went for 69, crafted off 88 balls with four sixes and three fours — it was to be the highest score of the match. 

Adil continued to attack the bowling, with help now from the last man, Mike Chinouya, and this last-wicket pair put on another 48 unbroken before the innings closed at 50 overs with 246 for nine wickets — Adil with 40 off 38 balls and Chinouya with 11. 

Hamza was the most successful of the bowlers, taking four wickets for 46 off eight overs, but for once Tapiwa Mufudza failed to take a wicket. 

It was a field day for Tadiwanashe Marumani as wicket-keeper, as he took six catches, including three off Adil. 

This was still not a target expected to trouble the confident Eagles team unduly, and they made a dazzling start, as Tinashe Kamunhukamwe and Marumani hammered 45 runs off the first four overs before Marumani was out lbw to Adil for 30, which took him all of 17 deliveries. 

Nick Welch joined Kamunhukamwe, who continued to score at a thunderous pace, reaching his fifty off only 31 balls and bringing up the team hundred at the same time. 

He played Mavuta with care, but treated the rest of the bowling with virtual contempt. 

At 114 he was gone, lbw to Tashinga Musekiwa for 63 off 49 balls, including 12 fours. 

Madhevere was out for two and Chamu Chibhabha came in to play a very cautious innings. 

Probably as captain he felt it was his duty to make sure he was still there at the end to ensure that victory was achieved, and he did so successfully, though remarkably slowly for him. 

Welch played a good innings of 58 off 69 balls, while Tino Mutombodzi scored 16 before being out at 200 for five. 

Chibhabha now began to play more freely, while Faraz Akram proved a good partner, and the last 47 runs were hit out without further loss in six overs.

Chibhabha finished with 46 not out off 85 balls, while Akram’s 20 took only 17. 

Adil took two wickets, but they were expensive, costing 59 runs off seven overs, while Mavuta bowled out his 10 overs for only 23 runs and the wicket of Madhevere.

So Eagles claimed the trophy, but Rhinos deserve great respect for the determined fight they put up after such a disastrous start to the match. 

Naqvi scooped the batter and player of the Pro50 Championship accolades, while Mufudza was named bowler of the tournament.

Brief Score:

Rhinos :  246-9 in 50 overs (Brandon Mavuta 69, Prince Masvaure 48, Muhammad Adil 40*; Ameer Hamza 4/46, Faraz Akram 2/18, Richard Ngarava 2/55)

Eagles: 247-5 in 44.3 overs (Tinashe Kamunhukamwe 63, Nick Welch 58, Chamu Chibhabha 46*; Muhammad Adil 2/59, Brandon Mavuta 1/23, Mike Chinouya 1/26)

Result: Eagles won by five wickets

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