Top local club cricket side Lions capped off a memorable season by clinching the inaugural National Premier League (NPL) T20 Blast title after edging Mutare-based Westside Cricket Club by three runs, in a thrilling final at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
Lions, who are coached by former Zimbabwe national cricket team captain Elton Chigumbura, as part of his academy project ended the competition unbeaten.
Chigumbura was also recognised for the sterling work he has done with the team by being named the Coach of the Tournament.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Lions, who went into the final as favourites, amassed a competitive total of 170 for seven in their allotted 20 overs.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Clive Madande, who recently made his national team debut top-scored for the Lions with 46 off 34 balls while Ali Hamed cracked 33 off 23.
Lions also benefitted from contributions from Johnathan Campbell (21 off 18) and Nkosilathi Nungu (17 off 8) in a solid team batting display.
National team fast bowler Tendai Chatara spearheaded Westside’s bowling attack by claiming three wickets for 10 runs while his fellow experienced strike partner Donald Tiripano took two wickets for 28 runs.
In reply, Westside got off to a poor start when Tarisai Musakanda was dismissed from the second delivery of the innings.
The Mutare-based side however fought back with fellow opener Clive Chitumba leading the charge with a 47-ball 68 while Kevin Kasuza made 37 off 28 helped stabilise the innings.
Chitumba held on while wickets continued to fall on the other end but his dismissal through a run-out with 14 runs needed to win proved to be the turning point in the match as Lions fought back to clinch the silverware in a nail-biting finish.
SCORES IN BRIEF
Lions – 170-7 in 20 overs (Clive Madande 46, Aliakbar Hamid 33, Johnathan Campbell 21; Tendai Chatara 3/10, Donald Tiripano 2/28, John Masara 1/21)
Westside – 167-9 in 20 overs (Clive Chitumba 68, Kevin Kasuza 37, Tinashe Muchawaya 19; Brad Evans 2/20, Kudakwashe Macheka 2/31, Marshal Takodza 1/15)
Lions won by three runs