HARARE-BASED Eagles won the Pro 50 Championship crown with a five-wicket win over Rhinos with 33 balls remaining in the season finale played at Takashinga Cricket Club in Highfield, Harare yesterday.
It is Eagles' first Pro-50 title since 2019 while it is their sixth overall after triumphs in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Chamu Chibhabha, Eagles captain held fort till the end with an unbeaten 46 runs off 85 deliveries, playing a mature anchoring role as the Harare-based franchise chased down Rhinos’ 246/9 reaching 247/5 in 44.3 overs.
He was joined by Faraz Akram, who was also not out on 20 runs from 17 deliveries. Eagles’ chase was built around explosive opening batsman, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe’s 43-ball 69 made up of 12 boundaries and Nick Welch’s 58 off 69 balls batting at number three.
Having won the toss, Chibhabha elected to field and was rewarded as early as the third over when seasoned campaigner, Richard Ngara had Rhinos opener, Bright Matsiwe were caught behind for a three-ball duck by wicketkeeper, Marumani after 2.3 overs with scoreboard reading 19/1.
Exactly two overs later, Ngarave struck again for the soaring Eagles this time removing the remaining opener for Rhinos, Takudzwanashe Kaitano for 28 runs, caught by Akram after 4.3 overs.
The onfire Eagles claimed their biggest catch after 5.5 overs when Hamza Sajjad had leading Pro 50 scorer, Antum Naqvi caught behind by Marumani for a four-ball duck to leave Rhinos exposed on 38/3. Rhinos continued on their download slope as Ben Curran (9) became the fourth victim, caught by Tino Mutombodzi off Wessly Madhevere’s bowling to leave the Midlands side reeling on 50/4 after 11.4 overs and 65/5 after 14.1 overs following the dismissal of Nyasha Mayavo for seven, caught behind by the busy Marumani off Akram’s bowling.
Rhinos’ captain and the most experienced cricketing brain in their outfit, Prince Masvaure patiently tried to rebuild the innings with an 85-ball 48 starring in a 78-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Brandon Mavuta.
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Masvaure was also caught behind by Marumani off Sajjad after 32.1 overs with Rhinos on 143/6 while top scorer, Mavuta with 69 batting at number seven was also caught behind by Marumani off Akram after 43.4 overs to leave Rhinos on 198/9.
Tail enders, Muhammad Adil and Michael Chinouya lifted Rhinos out of misery with an unbroken 48-run partnership. Adil scored a quick fire 40 from 38 balls while Chinouya weighed in with 11 runs from 18 balls. Sajjad picked four wickets for 46 runs from eight overs while Ngarava and Akram took two apiece.