Two guards of honour, a fifty, and a record win – Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza's final day as an international cricketer was one to remember.
The 36-year-old smashed 71 off just 42 balls to chase down Afghanistan's 155/8 on Friday, 20 September, for a seven-wicket win. It was Zimbabwe's first win against the Asian side in Twenty20 Internationals, and it was poignant that the retiring captain was instrumental in getting "the monkey off our back".
"It was super special," Masakadza said after the game, which was Zimbabwe's last in the tri-series in Bangladesh. "To lead the team to the win was really special, and that too in my last game. Also beating Afghanistan for the first time was special."
Masakadza, who has played 38 Tests, 209 one-day internationals and 66 T20Is for his country since his debut in 2001, had earlier in the month announced his intention to retire at the end of the tri-series. He walked out for the final time with "Mudhara" – his nickname – on his jersey, in a country he described as his "second home". His team-mates marked his final game with a guard of honour while he walked out to bat, and the Afghan players joined in. Both teams presented him with mementos after the match as well.
"It was a special feeling going through that guard of honour that the guys put up for me," he said. "I just got a lot of emotions going but, obviously, in the end, I am happy that I have pretty much done what the team needed from me, to get them into a good position to challenge Afghanistan for the win. I am very satisfied today.
"I look at it not really too much as a door closing for me but a door opening for someone else to come. We have got a lot of exciting guys to come through especially for that opening spot."
"I started tearing a little bit in the morning, trying to get through the team talk with the boys. 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."
In a reflective mood, he thanked his team-mates and family for their support. "I have been going through a lot of emotions today, but regret is not among them."
7️⃣1️⃣ with the bat today for Zimbabwe's Hamilton Masakadza as he bowed out of international cricket with a win!— ICC (@ICC) September 20, 2019
- 2223 Test runs with a top score of 1️⃣5️⃣8️⃣
- 5658 ODI runs with a top score of 1️⃣7️⃣8️⃣*
An outstanding servant to Zimbabwe cricket 👏 pic.twitter.com/R8UnHykkZ3
With 1662 runs, Masakadza is Zimbabwe's leading batsman in T20Is. His will be large shoes to fill, but he is optimistic about the talent in the country. "It's an opportunity for someone to take up the spots and put their hands up," he said.
"I am looking at [retirement] not really too much as a door closing for me, but as a door opening for someone else to come. We have got a lot of exciting guys to come through, especially for that opening spot. There is experience still around the team, and I am really confident that someone would put their hands up and grab their chances."