Chittagong: Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza could not hold back the tears when announcing to his players that Friday's match against Afghanistan would be his last in international cricket.
The 36-year-old was given a guard of honour by both sides as he came in to bat in Chittagong and then hit 71 off 42 balls to take Zimbabwe to an impressive seven-wicket victory — their first over Afghanistan — in T20 cricket.
Masakadza ended his 18-year international career with a blistering knock which consisted of five sixes and four fours.
#5thT20I | RESULT: @ZimCricketv (156-3 in 19.3 overs - Masakadza 71, Chakabva 39, Williams 21*; Mujeeb 2/28, Dawlat 1/27) beat @ACBofficials (155-8 in 20 overs - Gurbaz 61, Zazai 31, Shafiqullah 16; Mpofu 4/30, Mutombodzi 2/18, Jarvis 1/27) by 7 wickets #ZIMvAFG #ThankYouHami pic.twitter.com/x3GJ9Tc6Xw
— Zimbabwe Cricket (@ZimCricketv) September 20, 2019
"Obviously it was super special. To lead the team to the win was really special," he said on Friday.
Masakadza, who has played a key role in Zimbabwe's faltering progress in international cricket since making his debut in 2001, acknowledged that the emotions had gotten the better of him before the game even started.
"I started tearing a little bit in the morning trying to get through the team talk with the boys," he said. "I am not someone who wears his heart on his sleeve but I think this is the one thing that brought a few emotions out of me."
"Even when I tried to tell the guys and the team before I made the official announcement, I barely got through three sentences so it's been a really emotional time for me," he said.
Masakadza set a world record on his debut against the West Indies when he became the youngest Test centurion at 17 years and 254 days. His record survived barely three months before being broken by Bangladesh's Mohammad Ashraful.
He was also Zimbabwe's first black player to score a first-class century.
Masakadza later took a three-year break in his international career to pursue studies and returned with the national team in turmoil over players' disputes with the national federation.
The troubles affected his career and he had to wait until 2011 to score his second Test century, against Bangladesh, after Zimbabwe ended a five-year self-exile from Test cricket.
Masakadza, who played 38 Tests, 209 ODIs and 66 T20Is said he was leaving with no bitterness.
"I have been going through a lot of emotions today, but regret is not one of them. I am really thankful, thankful to the board for giving me the chance to play for as long as I have," he said.
Friday's game was Zimbabwe's last in the three-nation series. Bangladesh will play Afghanistan in the final on Tuesday.
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Mzansi Super League was earlier scheduled to be played in the usual November-December window with the addition of two new franchises based in Bloemfontein and East London.
The sport has felt closer. The teams have looked inclusive. Every spring evening, we watch them rescue us from the clutches of mundanity. Every night, we sleep knowing that mortal humans live in our television sets. And we dream – of dropped catches, manic chases, two-paced fifties, and legends dying.