Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak said the wicket of Andy Flower was the key to his side's 74-run defeat by Sri Lanka.
Flower's wicket turned the match in Sri Lanka's favour
Zimbabwe held the upper hand until Flower was given out lbw for 38 to reduce them to 140-4 in East London.
Television replays clearly showed the ball had come off bat first before striking pad.
And Flower's dismissal prompted a sudden batting collapse as Zimbabwe lost their final seven wickets for 42 runs.
"It was a big wicket for Sri Lanka. It was an unfortunate way for us to end the game," said Streak.
Andy will be in Zimbabwe's memories for a long time
Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak
"Andy was playing well out there and we knew we needed wickets in hand for the end.
"Unfortunately, no-one could come in and continue for us.
"It was not an ideal wicket, but you have to contend with these sort of conditions.
"Batting first was an advantage as well - but that is the way things go."
Streak said it was a sad day for Zimbabwe cricket to see Flower and Henry Olonga retire.
He said: "Both players have played a huge role in Zimbabwe
"It's a disappointing day for
Zimbabwe to lose two experienced and international quality
players who have played a major part in some of Zimbabwe's