MASHONALAND Eagles coach Mufaro Chiturumani was full of praise for his players after they ended two trophyless seasons by clinching the Pro-50 Championship after a four-wicket win over hosts Matabeleland Tuskers in the final at Queens Sports Club on Saturday.
Eagles, went into the final as underdogs who held their nerve to win a tense final in Bulawayo to deny the Logan Cup winners a memorable season double.
Chiturumani said he was happy with the way his players reacted after Tuskers reached 266 for seven in their allotted overs after winning the toss and electing to bat first.
“I was really happy with the way the players remained calm and focused after Tuskers posted what looked like a very competitive total.
It’s never easy to chase down over 260 against Tuskers, considering the star studded bowling attack they have but the boys stayed calm and in the end our game plan worked to perfection.
Mash Eagles skipper Tinotenda Mutombodzi, who has been a revelation with the bat led his charges from the front with a crucial knock of 79 from 76 balls in their pursuit of Tuskers’ total of 266 for seven.
However, his dismissal at the start of the 46th over left the visitors needing 45 runs off 29 balls, making the home side slight favourites.
Wicket-keeper Joylord Gumbie and spinner Wellington Masakadza, though, saw their side home during a brilliant unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 46.
Ten were required off the final over bowled by Chris Mpofu and Masakadza hit the winning boundary off the third ball. He ended on 24 off 14 balls, with Gumbie on a run-a-ball 36.
The late drama followed a solid start to the chase by Mash Eagles after returning national team opening batsman Chamu Chibhabha laid solid foundation making a 59 in 70 balls.
Earlier, Tuskers’ skipper Godwill Mamhiyo top scored with 63 from 55 balls but his was the only half-century of the innings and Luke Jongwe’s 45 in 40 balls proved not enough.
Masakadza, who would later star with the bat played a crucial role with ball in hand, taking two for 39 as Matabeleland Tuskers failed to cause too much damage batting first having won the toss.
Chiturumani, who was in his first season as Mash Eagles coach said their next target was to win the Logan Cup title after missing out to Tuskers, who have won three titles in the last four seasons.
“I’m really happy to have managed to win a trophy in my first season with Mash Eagles, but credit goes to the players and the rest of the technical staff got their hard work. The next target for us is to win the Logan Cup title,” he said.