KHULNA. — Hamilton Masakadza fired Zimbabwe to a blistering start, held the middle order together and remained unbeaten till the last over of the innings.
A few hours later he was named Man-of-the-Match and Man-of-the-Series having played a big part in his team coming from behind to level the T20 series against Bangladesh 2-2.
Masakadza’s unbeaten 93 in Khulna yesterday sealed a hat-trick — the top three scores for Zimbabwe in T20s belong to him.
He also holds the record for most runs in a bilateral T20I series, and in the second game became the first from his country to complete 3,000 runs in Twenty20 cricket.
Zimbabwe will hope his form continues with the World T20 coming up in just over a month.
Masakadza needed only 58 balls to almost score a T20 century thanks to five sixes and eight fours, most of which came on the leg side.
But there was beauty in his brutality as well.
He used singles to feed an 80-run partnership with Richmond Mutumbami, but let the big-hitting Malcolm Waller take most of the strike during their 61-run third-wicket stand.
Then when he saw Elton Chigumbura miss a few, Masakadza took the lead in their unbroken 31-run fifth-wicket stand to power Zimbabwe to 180 for 4.
“I thought [my innings] went almost exactly like I wanted it to go,” Masakadza said. “We started off playing quite a few shots in the Powerplay. Then, just tried to support the guys in the middle and play some more big shots in the death overs.”
Masakadza’s regret was more about failing to get a bigger total for Zimbabwe than missing out on a hundred.
“I think I didn’t get as many as I would have liked to in the end overs. I didn’t clear the ropes as much as I wanted to. Other than that it set up the team quite brilliantly. I was more disappointed at not getting 190-odd. We were in a good position to get to the score.”
In the first two T20s, Zimbabwe made good starts with the bat but their middle order gave it away at crucial stages. That shortcoming was addressed in the third T20 with Waller playing finisher.
Zimbabwe had laid the foundation today as well and a set batsman was able to make sure they got to a formidable total.
Masakadza said all the team needed to win was the middle order to take advantage of a fast start, and their self-belief had shot up after winning the third T20.
“We were always confident, especially the way we played in the first game. We lost after posting 160 on the board but I thought the way the batsmen had gone, especially to start with, we just needed the middle order to click. We knew we could get over the line.
“The momentum definitely helped after the third game. Obviously the guys got more confident with what they were doing. They had a little bit more belief after getting the first victory.”
Masakadza said the 2-2 result would go a long way in helping the side overcome their 2-0 loss to Afghanistan earlier this month.
“I thought the guys showed a lot of character to come back from 2-0 down. It is a big positive for us. We needed to put what happened against Afghanistan behind us. I think the guys showed good will power to make this comeback. It was very good for the team.” — Cricinfo.