Good days are rare for Zimbabwe cricket, but they are surely going through one of their best phases at the moment. To defeat a cricketing giant (in comparison to Zimbabwe) at their home in a five-match series, is proof of the fact that they still possess the talent that they did in the Andy Flower-era.
Several players upped their game in Sri Lanka, and there are some that we would like to see in next year’s IPL. After all, if Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan can make such an impact, why can’t someone from Zimbabwe.
Born in Pakistan, Sikandar Raza did not dream of becoming a cricketer. He wanted to be a fighter pilot. Unfortunately, he couldn’t fulfil that dream because his eyes weren’t good enough. Then, destiny played its part in making him an able all-rounder. In the deciding fifth ODI, Raza played the game of his life with both the bat and the ball. His 10 overs yielded three wickets for a paltry 21 runs, and his heroic 27 under pressure saw Zimbabwe home. Hopefully, we’ll see some IPL team take him next year, even if he doesn’t get to feature in all matches.
Hamilton Masakadza has been a war-horse for Zimbabwe for quite some time now. However, he didn’t come into the series feeling assured about his spot in the side. “I was a little bit of pressure coming in the series. The selectors backed me and gave me another shot. I’ve worked on a lot of plans with the batting coach and it’s paid off,” he said after the fifth ODI. Masakadza’s heroics with the bat, earned him the Man Of The Series trophy, and it will be great if we see him in next year’s IPL.
Chasing down 317 in an away game is too big a mountain to climb for a side like Zimbabwe, but Solomon Mire showed how a ‘nothing to lose, everything to win’ attitude can reap rich dividends. In the first ODI, Mire struck a thundering 112 from 96 balls to make the target seem achievable. He can also be handy with the ball, and can bowl a few overs if any one bowler has a nightmarish day. For an IPL team, he can be a reserve player who doesn’t cost a lot of money.
Cricket runs in the family for Craig Ervine, with his brother Sean also having played for Zimbabwe. His unbeaten knock of 69 in a pressure cooker situation is what made Zimbabwe clinch the fourth ODI. “We knew the target. We just needed to execute our plans. Tying the series is exciting,” he said after the match. Certainly like Mire, Ervine can be a cheap reserve overseas player for any IPL team.