Masakadza leads Zimbabwe's 5-0 sweep
Zimbabwe sealed the five-match series, a lopsided battle of the minnows, with a seven-wicket win in Nairobi to record a clean sweep. They were barely challenged, save for two early wickets, in their chase of a modest 200 as Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri and Sean Williams compiled attacking half-centuries to steer them home with 15 overs to spare.
The win was set up by the Zimbabwe spinners, led by Graeme Cremer, who took 4 for 31, while Masakadza picked up 2 for 20, which he backed up with his run-a-ball 84. A seventh-wicket partnership of 75 between Collins Obuya and Rajesh Bhudia helped Kenya claw back from a middle-order collapse in a desperate bid to save face in a series already lost.
Things didn't look so rosy for the visitors at the start of their chase. They lost Keith Dabengwa off the second ball, chasing Peter Ongondo's away swinger, and then Vusi Sibanda in the following over, edging Lameck Onyango to Maurice Ouma. Game on with Zimbabwe 2 for 2 but that was to be Kenya's only period of domination as Masakadza and Matsikenyeri led a quick recovery.
Masakadza set the tone with consecutive boundaries through the on side off Ongondo while Matsikenyeri looked to attack with aerial shots over the same region. Kenya needed a wicket but the breakthrough came a little too late, after the pair had added a match-winning 93. Matsikenyeri, ironically, perished to his favoured on-side region, hitting it down Rakep Patel's throat at mid-on off Hiren Varaiya shortly after reaching his fifty.
Masakadza too reached his half-century, off 52 balls, and found an able partner in Williams, who took on the bowling straightaway. He was harsh on the spinners, Patel and Varaiya, picking them for powerful boundaries through the off side. He reached his fifty - his ninth - with a four past mid-off off Ongondo shortly before the victory. The final act was reserved for Masakadza - the highest run-scorer in the series - who picked Onyango for consecutive boundaries to seal the series.
Collins Obuya's tenacious effort of 75 was the only noteworthy performance for the home side, who'd elected to bat. They made a solid start with the opening pair of Kennedy Otieno and Seren Waters putting on 45 but the batting caved in once Masakadza had Otieno caught by Ray Price in the ninth over.
The Zimbabwe bowlers not only managed to choke the top order but struck at regular intervals and the hosts were reduced to 92 for 6. The match looked to be going the same way as other games in the series, completely in Zimbabwe's favour.
However, Obuya and Rajesh Bhudia's stand helped Kenya claw back. Budhia's cameo, off 49 balls, included six boundaries and it set Kenya up for Obuya's late assault.
Budhia's run-out in the 46th over though sparked another collapse as Cremer struck three times in two overs. In a turnaround from his slow approach early on, Obuya tore into Elton Chigumbara in the 48th over, slamming three sixes and two fours in that over. The late charge gave the total some respectability but in the end, Kenya were well short.
The whitewash has also earned Prosper Utseya's team a promotion in the ICC ODI rankings, displacing Ireland from the tenth spot.