THE just-ended month-long schedule in which the Zimbabwe cricket team played Afghanistan in the United Arab Emirates before proceeding to Bangladesh has brought mixed fortunes for the country’s two senior players Hamilton Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura.
While Masakadza appears to be back to his batting best, which has seen him storm into the top 10 on the ICC T20 batting rankings, Chigumbura’s struggles to put runs on the board continued and culminated in him resigning as the team captain.
Having been dropped from the team in the second and third T20 encounters, Chigumbura returned in the fourth on Friday as Zimbabwe completed a comeback from 2-0 down to share the spoils in a World Cup preparatory series. Chigumbura announced his resignation soon after.
On the other hand, Masakadza, who was called back into the national team ahead of the clash with the Afghans late December, has been in sparkling form in spite of the defeat to the Asian minnows in both the One Day International (ODI) and the T20 series.
Masakadza emerged the highest run scorer in the ODI series against Afghanistan after he plundered a century and a half century in five matches. He went on to be Zimbabwe’s highest placed batsman in the T20 series against the same opponents.
Masakadza (32) proved his mettle in Friday’s four-match T20 series against Bangladesh with a flawless 93 not out knock — the best by any Zimbabwean in that version of the game — to claim the Man of the Match and Man of the Series accolades.
He had earlier scored 79 runs in the first match, as well as 30 and 20 in the second and third encounters respectively to finish as the overall highest run scorer.
With Chigumbura stepping down from the captaincy in all three formats to concentrate on his own game, Masakadza becomes the overwhelming favourite to assume the reins.
Meanwhile, Graeme Cremer and Masakadza became the highest ranked Zimbabweans on the latest MRF ICC T20 player rankings released yesterday.
Following the Bangladesh series, Cremer moved nine places up to a career-high fifth position on 61 points on the bowlers’ list.
Masakadza shot up 11 places to eighth position in the batting table, while Malcolm Waller, who scored 128 runs in the series, has rocketed 39 places to join Hashim Amla of South Africa in 24th position.
Tendai Chisoro, who was impressive in Zimbabwe’s fight taking four wickets is now inside the top 50 in 46th position.