Harare: Former West Indies captain Chris Gayle shone again but his Matabeleland Tuskers came up short once more, losing their Stanbic Bank T20 Series semi-final by seven wickets to Mountaineers here.
The left-handed Gayle cracked a typically entertaining 45 to help the Tuskers up to 167 for six off their 20 overs.
However, Hamilton Masakadza`s fluent, unbeaten 80 put the Mountaineers on top, as they cruised to their target with four balls to spare.
Despite the defeat, Gayle`s Tuskers can still qualify for the final if they beat Eagles in a playoff Saturday.
Opting to bat first at the Harare Sports Club, Tuskers were given a handy start by the explosive Gayle who smashed three fours and two sixes off 34 balls.
The Jamaican, ostracized from his regional team until he tenders an apology to the West Indies Cricket Board, put on 40 from 27 balls with Tom Smith (14) and added a further 40 off 26 balls for the third wicket with Charles Coventry (45).
Gayle eventually fell to a catch at third man by Timycen Maruma off off-spinner Prosper Utseya (2-23) in the 14th over, leaving Coventry and Craig Ervine (23), to keep the innings afloat.
In reply, Mountaineers got a flying start from Masakadza and Englishman Phil Mustard, with the pair posting 64 off 41 balls for the first wicket.
Masakadza carved out three fours and five sixes off 56 balls while Mustard`s 44 came from 24 balls and included three fours and two sixes.
When Mountaineers slipped to 120 for three in the 15th over, Masakadza and New Zealander Chris Harris, 21 not out, combined in a 50-run, fourth wicket stand to steer their side to victory and into the final of the competition.
Gayle sent down four overs for 25 runs and snared one wicket.