Cremer lauds Raza after tense win

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Zimbabwe clinched their first ever series win over Sri Lanka in a tense fifth ODI in Hambantota with skipper Graeme Cremer and Sikandar Raza getting them over the line.

Cremer and Raza shared a vital 29 run eighth wicket partnership after a middle order collapse threatened to derail a simple chase.

Zimbabwe slipped from 137 for 1 to 175 for 7 chasing a target of 204 runs to win the match and the series.

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Raza remained calm and slapped the winning runs with a slightly miscued shot that cleared long off for a maximum.

The skipper was not quite so calm and was guilty of a little ball watching that prompted Raza to give his captain an animated wake up call.

The captain admitted after the game to being a little nervous at the end saying: “It was a bit…..I don’t know how to put it.

“I was under pressure, but we needed just one small partnership to get over the line. Happy that Sikandar came to the party. It turned around very quickly but happy we pulled it off in the end.”

Raza had earlier put in a great shift to neutralize the opening pair of Sri Lanka who have been on fire this series.

The spinner claimed 3 for 21 from his ten overs in a brilliantly economical spell that took the wind out of the hosts sails.

Cremer added: “We knew they were expecting seam on both ends. Raza is a definite weapon with the new ball. I was hoping for a breakthrough or two and he gave us that in the Powerplay.

“I usually always call heads, decided to change today and it worked out well. This win is very special, fans must be jumping around back home. We knew we’re playing good enough cricket to put them under pressure.”

Raza was delighted with the faith put in him by skipper Cremer and management.

The allrounder said: “To win the series with the bunch of boys we’ve had, I can’t be happier. Skipper asked me in the morning and I said I’d like to bowl the first over. He trusted me and it paid off. I’m so happy it worked out for the team.”

Zimbabwe opener Hamilton Masakadza has had a great series after a lean run in recent times.

Hamilton earned the man of the series award and gave credit to his opening partner Solomon Mire’s positive approach.

The opener said: “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. We wanted to have a look first up. That’s how Solo has a look, he always has a go. Worked on the sweep quite a lot before coming here.”

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