HARARE – Zimbabwe senior men cricket team head coach Heath Streak shared the disappointment of a near miss to what would have become a triumphant end following their four-wicket defeat against Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
The team on the rebound returned back in the country Wednesday evening to a heroes’ welcome with fans from all quarters of the country thronging the Harare International Airport.
And although the team’s exit after disembarking from the plane appeared to have delayed a bit largely because of the bulky nature of cricket luggage, none of the fans seemed to be in a hurry to vacate the place.
“…We were all disappointed, we felt we could have won that Test match and it was a tough flight back given we got so close to winning,” Streak said of the pains of a defeat at the jaws of victory on the final day of the Test match.
“…We know that when West Indies come in October the belief will be there, we can build on the performances that we had in Sri Lanka getting onto the West Indies and into next year to the World Cup Qualifiers.”
Zimbabwe displayed an attacking brand of all-round cricket that caught the Asian side by surprise leaving the hosts to dig deep and be at their best in order to mount a serious challenge against the visitors.
The first One Day International match went down in history as Zimbabwe’s first ever victory in Sri Lanka and the first time a chase of 300 plus runs was ever chased down successfully in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka totalled 316/6 with Zimbabwe chasing down the target easily reaching 322/5 with 14 balls to spare.
The previous highest chase in Sri Lanka was 289 that the hosts achieved against Pakistan in 2009 in Dambulla.
Batsman Solomon Mire (112) scored his maiden ODI ton, Sikandar Raza was unbeaten on 67 runs while Sean Williams weighed in with 65 runs and pace bowler Tendai Chatara picked two wickets.
The underdogs went on to lose the second and third ODIs to trail 2-1 but with some success stories in opener Hamilton Masakadza ultimately named man of the series scoring 113 before they came out of their shell to win the decisive two games to lift the ODI series; their first against Sri Lanka as well.
The lone Test series saw batsmen Craig Ervine and Raza notching a century each while captain Graeme Cremer picked his first five wicket haul courtesy of his five first innings wickets only to be denied a 10 wicket haul after claiming four in the reverse innings.
“I think we have seen what these guys are capable of…I would like to thank ZC for all their support and what they did behind the scenes,” Streak added.
“What we achieved is not something that happens overnight but I think what we have seen and what we have realised is that this is a watershed moment for this team in terms of what their capabilities are and where we can go as a cricketing nation.
“The belief in this team is really very high, I would like to congratulate them on the hard work they put in the last year or so.
“We have been having tough times and we have been challenged but they have been rewarded.
“They have played as best as they can and to you guys, as a coach, as a team and technical stuff on behalf of ZC I would like to thank you guys because at the end of the day you guys were down there and put the performances on.”
ZC board chairperson Tavengwa Mukuhlani who was also at the airport paid tribute to the team and its technical staff for the job well done.
“Just a few weeks ago, as you left for Sri Lanka via Scotland and the Netherlands, not many among us would have imagined the success of your just-ended tour but here we are today, receiving and welcoming not just our team but our triumphant history-makers,” Mukuhlani said.