Eastern Province have reached the Africa T20 Cup final by thrashing Zimbabwe by 76 runs in Oudtshoorn on Friday.
EP have made their first ever Africa T20 final, and they’ve done so in clinical fashion, by backing up their unbeaten run in the group stages with another comfortable win in the semi-finals, albeit against a side lucky to be there in the first place.
Zimbabwe, who made it through to the final four courtesy of a lucky draw after the majority of their pool stage was wiped out due to rain, won the toss and sent EP into bat. The opening pair of JJ Smuts and Edward Moore got off to a quick start, putting on 35 runs in the first two overs before Shingi Masakadza (3-33) struck with a wicket at the end of the second over.
Nathan Waller (2-29) followed his opening partner by claiming the wicket of the highly-rated Matthew Christensen for two shortly after. Colin Ackermann did well to help his captain solidify the innings with 36 off 30 balls, until their third-wicket 46-run partnership was ended by Wellington Masakadza (2-27), taking the wicket of Ackermann at the end of the tenth over. The fall of wicketkeeper-batsman Clyde Fortuin brought JJ Smuts’ brother, Kelly, to the crease, but JJ could not hang around long enough to get a landmark score, falling on 42 off 27 balls to Masakadza.
The Masakadza brothers proved their worth by taking five wickets between them which included all four of EP’s danger-men. Eastern Province still managed to post a decent total thanks to an awesome batting display by tailender Solo Nqweni, smashing 22 runs off eight deliveries to help his team post 163-8 in their 20 overs.
Eastern Province got off to superb start, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe caught and bowled by Brad Dolley and Sisanda Magala dismissing Peter Moor in the first over with only two runs on the board.
Magala continued to live up to his reputation, taking another wicket in the fourth over as Zimbabwe found themselves in trouble at 12-3 after five overs, taking his tally to 10 overs.
Solo Nqweni meanwhile backed up his batting display with an even better bowling display, taking the key wicket of Tendai Maruma before cleaning up the tail with another two scalps, complementing the all-round displays of Smuts, who took two wickets himself, to bowl the Zimbabweans out for 87.