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Masaka on Hami’s farewell

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CHITTAGONG — Zimbabwe national cricket team captain Hamilton Masakadza (36) yesterday made his farewell match memorable by leading his side to a seven-wicket victory against Afghanistan in the T20 tri-series.

Zimbabwe also snapped Afghanistan’s eight-match winning streak in this format against them.

Masakadza struck a 42-ball 71, including four fours and five sixes, to help his side reach 156-3 in 19.3 overs after Afghanistan put on 155-8.

The match had nothing at stake after Zimbabwe was eliminated from contention following three straight defeats.

In his last international match, Masakadza combined for two important partnerships to edge his side closer to victory. He shared 40 with Brendan Taylor (19) for the opening stand before adding 70 runs with Regis Chakabva for the second wicket.

Chakabva kept the runs flowing after fast bowler Dawlat Zadran had Maskadza caught by Mohammad Nabi at long-on with Zimbabwe at 110-2 in 13th over.

“Fantastic feeling to finish off like that,” Masakadza said. “Always knew the boys had a performance in them. Good to get a send-off like this.”

Chakabva made 32 while Sean Williams, who hit the winning single, was not out on 21.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz smashed a 47-ball 61, his maiden fifty, to lift Afghanistan after Rashid Khan opted to bat first. He and Hazratullah Zazai (31) combined for 83 runs in just 9.3 overs, but the Zimbabwe bowlers, led by Christopher Mpofu’s career-best 4-30, stifled Afghanistan halfway through the innings.

Tinotenda Mutumbodzi claimed 2-18 to give Mpofu the support to restrict Afghanistan to a moderate total.

“We had a good start, but didn’t finish off well,” Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan said. “That’s a part of T20 cricket. Had a good game, will take the positives and will try not to repeat the mistakes.”

Afghanistan will take on Bangladesh today in a dress rehearsal of the final, which is on September 24 in Dhaka.

The Zimbabwe skipper was congratulated by Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and other Afghanistan players as he walked back to the dressing room after his match-winning knock.

Masakadza retires as the 15th highest T20I run-scorer and the highest run-scorer for Zimbabwe with 1 662 runs to his name from 66 innings at an average of 25.96 and 11 half-centuries.

The Zimbabwean cricketer announced his retirement before the tri-nation T20I series.

Zimbabwe could not register a single win until their last game in the series.

Masakadza also retires with best bowling figures to his name. He took four wickets for 28 runs against Scotland on March 10, 2016.

His high score of 93 is also the second-highest score for Zimbabwe in T20I cricket.

The Harare-born cricketer has played 38 Tests and 209 one-day international (ODIs) for Zimbabwe scoring 2 223 runs and 5 658 runs. He has five centuries in both ODI and Test cricket. — Online

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