Zimbabwe Cricket Board XI Kenya Elton Chigumbura Rakep Patel

Zimbabwe’s preparations for next month’s T20 International triangular series at home to Australia and Pakistan got underway today, with the Board XI team losing to Kenya by 5 wickets at Old Hararians in the first match of a three-team practice tournament. The match was dominated by two fine innings, by Elton Chigumbura, who saved the Board XI from disaster, and Rakep Patel, who won the match for Kenya almost single-handedly.

On a cold but sunny morning, Kenya won the toss and put the Board XI in to bat. The home side soon lost their dynamic opening batsman Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, who miscued a big hit and was caught in the second over for five.

The Kenyan opening bowlers, Nelson Odhiambo and Lucas Oluoch, did a fine job and there was some good work in the field, notably the stop and throw by Gurdeep Singh that ran out Prince Masvaure for 4. By this stage Chamu Chibhabha had gone for 8 and Richmond Mutumbami without scoring, so the first 4 wickets were down for 18. Nyasha Mayavo briefly fought back, scoring 11 before being caught in the deep.

But apart from this, it was a case of Chigumbura versus Kenya. The experienced campaigner never appeared troubled by the bowling, although he played himself in with care, held the innings together and only in the final overs unleashed the full power of his strokes. In the 19th over he reached his fifty, off 36 balls, and also brought up the team hundred, which for most of the innings had never looked likely. He was dropped off a skyer in the final over, and finished with 60 not out off 42 balls, with 4 fours and 3 sixes.

The innings closed for 123, the most successful bowler being Oluoch with 3 for 26.

Kenya were given a fair start to their innings by Dhiren Gondaria and Alex Obanda. Obanda soon proved himself a strong driver, hitting John Nyumbu for a powerful four and a six in the third over.

Gondaria was well caught by Mayavo in the deep for 10 in the sixth over, the opening partnership having put on 28 runs. Then at 39 a fine run-out by Chamu Chibhabha removed the dangerous Obanda for 26 in the seventh over.

Kenya now began to struggle for runs against the tight Zimbabwean attack. Patel, who came in at number three, kept the score moving, but could not find a reliable partner.

Thirty runs were needed off the last 3 overs, and virtually everything depended on Patel, or the Zimbabweans’ ability to get him out.

Fifteen runs came off the 18th over, bowled by Faraz Akram, helped by unnecessary extras and a couple of misfields, and 12 off the 19th from Chibhabha, including Patel’s fifty off 37 balls.

This left only 3 needed to win off the final over, entrusted to Brandon Mavuta, and Odhiambo, who had played a valuable sleeping partner role up to now, hammered his second ball through the covers to the boundary to win the match for Kenya.

Natsai M’shangwe was the Zimbabweans’ most successful bowler, with 2 wickets for 21.

Brief scores:

Zimbabwe Board XI 123 for 9 in 20 overs (Elton Chigumbura 60*, Nyasha Mayavo 11, John Nyumbu 9; Lucas Oluoch 3 for 26, Collins Obuya 2 for 9) lost to Kenya 125 for 5 in 19.2 overs (Rakep Patel 53*, Alex Obanda 26, Nelson Odhiambo 13*; Natsai M’shangwe 2 for 21, Brandon Mavuta 1 for 19, Chamu Chibhabha 1 for 21) by 5 wickets with 4 balls to spare.

In the second match, after lunch, the Board XI were due to play again, this time against the Zimbabwe Select team; they won the toss this time round and decided to bat.

They suffered the shock this time of losing Chibhabha, who was bowled by the first ball he faced, from Ernest Masuku.

Kamunhukamwe and Masvaure were soon scoring freely, though the latter would have himself out again in similar fashion to his dismissal against Kenya had the throw hit the stumps.

Masvaure burned his candle at both ends, driving brilliantly but not lasting long, bowled by Liam Roche for 25 after hitting him for successive sixes; 47 for 2 off 5 overs.

Kamunhukamwe (26) and Mutumbami (13) scored quickly, but when both were out in quick succession to Rugare Magarira the score was 72 for 4 in the ninth over.

Chigumbura looked capable of matching his morning’s performance, but was just getting going when he was bowled by Tendai Chisoro for 21 off 25 balls.

Nobody else was able to stand in the gap, and the innings closed in the 20th over for 124, Donald Tiripano bowling out Nyumbu and Tendai Chatara with successive deliveries; they thus did one run better than they had done in the morning.

Kamunhukamwe’s 26 turned out to be the highest score of the innings. Magarira took 3 wickets for 17 runs, while Masuku and Tiripano took 2 each.

Bothwell Chapungu looked ready to finish the match in quick time as he hit Chatara for 2 fours in the opening over. He went on to make 27 off 24 balls before he slashed at a ball from Mavuta and was caught at short third man, the score then being 62 for two (Tafadzwa Tsiga earlier out for one), fattened by 15 extras, mostly in wides.

Tarisai Musakanda got after the bowling in his usual style, but at 86 in the 11th over Kevin Kasuza was trapped lbw by Mavuta for 15. The team hundred came up in the 13th over with only 3 wickets down, Roche having joined Musakanda.

They had no trouble in taking the Select XI home to victory with 18 balls to spare, Musakanda finishing on 48* and Roche 17*. Mavuta had 2 wickets and Chatara 1.