Finals day is always the pinnacle of every tournament; group stage form can be disrupted, and the increased pressure means that any finals day is always an exciting one to watch. There were three games taking place on finals day, the first was the qualifier with the Blitz coming up against the Stars with the winner going straight through to the finals. The second game of finals day then becomes the eliminator with the loser of the qualifier coming up against the Lusaka Heats, who qualified for the game with their fantastic victory over the Kitwe Kings. Then the final. The Blitz looked favourite to win the qualifier and must have been the favourites for the final but how did the action unfold?
Ndola Blitz vs Kabwe Stars
Ndola Blitz Squad:
Squad: Robert Rogers (C), James Squire (VC), Connor Fletcher (WK), Chris Mai, Calion Harris, James Badcock, Aiden Hawksworth, Keyle Russel, James Green, Devan Cowley, Oliver Snart, Thomas Vermaark, Richard Parker, Greg Geldenhuys and Craig Stow.
Kabwe Stars Squad:
Joseph Chinunga (C), Godfrey Kandela (VC), Isaac Mwaba (WK), Allan Nsesha (WK), Gladson Kandela, Kanswe Omala, Tausif Panchibaya, Madaliso Mvula, Mohammade Baidu, Mohsin Agaz, Tapson Nyirongo, Ashraf Lulat, Lawrence Mutale, Zakir Patel, James Zimba
On a beautiful day in the Zambian capital, the group stage winners and favourites, the Ndola Blitz, faced the Kabwe Stars in what was set to be an enthralling fixture. The Stars won the toss elected to bowl first, with captain Chinunga opting to put the pressure on the Blitz to post a score.
The Blitz were without the services of crucial bowling allrounder James Green due to injury. From the first over the Stars piled the pressure on the Blitz; key batter Connor Fletcher would be dismissed for a single run following an edge to Mwaba from Panchibaya’s bowling. The Blitz slowly notched up some handy runs through Keyel Russel, coming into bat third knock 30 off 19. These were backed up by a quick 28 from 12 courtesy of captain Robert Rogers. Despite these valiant efforts, the Stars bowlers played the game of their lives and restricted the Blitz to 90/9. James Zimba spun his way to figures of (2-0-15-4) and then Tapson Nyirongo polished off the lower order, claiming a hat-trick in the final over.
In the new innings the Stars kicked off steadily with the bat. Joseph Chinunga set the pace, clipping boundaries, ones and twos seemingly at will. His batting partners, Ashraf Lulat and then Mohammade Baidu, anchored down and batted with good discipline. The Blitz bowled with consistency, as they have throughout the tournament, but failed to contain Chinunga in the later overs as he penetrated the gaps in the field to make 56* from 34. The final over approached with the Stars requiring 7 to progress to the final. Chinunga guided his side to victory with 3 balls remaining to finish off on a sure 93/1, a victory by 9 wickets.
The Stars were now confirmed finalists and could rest in preparation. For the Blitz, this meant they would now enter a qualifier against the Lusaka Heats for another opportunity to reach the final.
Next page: The Eliminator