Antum Naqvi starred with a brilliant innings of 91 as Takashinga Patriots 2 were crowned the NPL T20 Blast champions after beating Uprising by three runs in a thrilling final that went down to the very last ball of the match at Harare Sports Club on Saturday night.
Put in to bat, the Highfield-based side were given a flying start by Cephas Zhuwao and Kudzai Maunze, and when Luke Jongwe dismissed the latter for 21 in the fifth over the score was 45.
In his next over, Jongwe had Zhuwao caught for 36 off 22 balls with the score now 69.
Baxon Gopito went for five at 81 for three, but there followed the big partnership of the innings, as Faraz Akram joined Naqvi and they added 97 runs in less than eight overs before Chris Mpofu had Akram caught for 35 off 19 balls.
At 178 for five in the 17th over, Takashinga were expecting a mighty hitting spree at the end of the innings, but Mpofu spoilt that for them, as in his next three deliveries he removed Tashinga Musekiwa and Tafadzwa Tsiga.
The later batters failed, but Naqvi was caught at the wicket for 91 in the final over, having hit five sixes and seven fours in facing 47 balls.
The innings closed at 207 for nine, with Mpofu returning the superb figures of four for 27 in his four overs, while Jongwe had three for 52.
When Uprising went in they lost Takudzwanaishe Kaitano in the fourth over, bowled by Trevor Gwandu for 12 at 26 for one.
There followed a superb second-wicket partnership of 131 in less than 12 overs between the old master Craig Ervine and the young talent Nick Welch, and as long as this pair was together Uprising appeared to be on course for victory.
Then Naqvi stepped in again to dismiss Ervine lbw for a brilliant 76, scored off 37 balls with four sixes and eight fours, at 157 for two in the 15th over.
Two overs later Gwandu struck what proved to be the decisive blows, as within three deliveries he had Ryan Burl caught for eight and Welch caught for 60, scored off 45 balls with a six and six fours.
The score was now 169 for four after 16.4 overs, and the burden of the victory chase now lay on the young shoulders of Brian Bennett.
He hit out bravely as his partners came and went, and the final over arrived with 15 runs still needed and Bennett to face the bowling of Tashinga Musekiwa.
He scored a single, Aisha Chibanda made two, but was caught off the third delivery.
William Mashinge came in and scored a single, before Musekiwa made what might have been a fatal mistake – he bowled a no-ball that Bennett hit for four, followed by a two.
The last ball arrived with Bennett on strike needing four for victory.
However, he failed to hit it well, and Musekiwa was able, following through, to pick up the ball and run out Bennett as the batters tried to scramble a single.
The match thus ended with Takashinga victorious by three runs in a worthy finish to the competition.
Takashinga Patriots 2 — 207-9 in 20 overs (Antum Naqvi 91, Cephas Zhuwao 36, Faraz Akram 35; Chris Mpofu 4/27, Luke Jongwe 3/52, William Mashinge 1/36)
Uprising — 204-7 in 20 overs (Craig Ervine 76, Nick Welch 60, Brian Bennett 24; Trevor Gwandu 3/34, Tashinga Musekiwa 2/33, Antum Naqvi 1/44)-ZimCricket