A maiden series victory against Sri Lanka was the “pinnacle” of his career, Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer said, and it may have been Zimbabwe’s fielding that set them apart.
Cremer singled out Tarisai Musakanda’s excellent catch to dismiss Akila Dananjaya as a vital moment of the match. Sri Lanka were 153 for 7 in the 42nd over, when Musakanda dove low to his right to intercept the ball, which may otherwise have traveled quickly to the boundary. The dismissal probably delayed Sri Lanka’s death-overs attack. They ended with 203 for 8 from their 50 overs.
“Fielding actually separates teams often,” Cremer said. “That catch from Musakanda today was a turning point in the game. If not for that, Sri Lanka could have got to 230 and that would have been a tough total. I thought our fielding was brilliant. Definitely fielding is a positive for us.”
This was Zimbabwe’s first away series victory since 2009, but also their first ODI series victory anywhere since Cremer took over the captaincy. In four prior ODI engagements in Cremer’s tenure, Zimbabwe had lost to India and Afghanistan, drawn with Scotland, and lost a tri-series at home to Sri Lanka last year. They were the 11th ranked side in the world coming into this contest, and had never beaten Sri Lanka on the island in a single match.
“This is the pinnacle of my career – no doubt about that,” Cremer said. “I have been through lot of good moments since I started playing, but there’s been nothing like this. A series win in Sri Lanka is tough and to lead the team is a super feeling. It’s definitely the highest point in my career. Just knowing that quality Zimbabwe teams that have come here have gone empty-handed, makes the series win so special. As a team, the unity we had was special. To lead a team like that to a series win – I’m really happy.”
Cremer also revealed Zimbabwe had only decided to open the bowling with Sikandar Raza after seeing the pitch on the morning of the game. Raza, as it happened, took two wickets inside the first Powerplay, and claimed 3 for 21 in his 10 overs. He also made vital contributions with the bat right across the series, scoring 137 runs at an average of 68.50, with a strike rate of 108.
“Raza came on this tour after being out of form on tours to Scotland and Holland,” Cremer said. “The faith we showed in him by keeping on selecting him was a confidence booster, knowing that that the team backed him. This tour showed how dangerous he can be with bat and ball. He opened the bowling today and was brilliant.”
The player of the series, however, was Hamilton Masakadza, who hit 258 runs at an average of 51.60 across the five matches. His 73 off 86 balls in the decider was the major contribution in Zimbabwe’s chase.
“Masakadza is very experienced, and his batting is crucial,” Cremer said. “He has been in the team for so long and knows a lot. His contributions are massive.”