I take it upon myself to deliver for Zimbabwe: Skipper Sikandar Raza

"A lot of the failures would have been down to my poor performances and not as much as my teammates," says Raza.
Zimbawe cricket team captain Sikandar Raza during a match vs India
Zimbawe cricket team captain Sikandar Raza during a match vs IndiaPHOTO | Tsvangirayi Muikwazhi

CHENNAI: Sikandar Raza is not one to mince words. The Zimbabwe captain has been around too long to do that. He does not shy away from the fact that Zimbabwe’s last T20I series win came against Ireland 18 months ago. In the time since, Zimbabwe has lost to Namibia in a bilateral series, missed out in the T20 World Cup Africa Region qualifier, lost to Ireland, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the shortest format. In ODIs, they have played only three series including the World Cup qualifier since beating Netherlands in March 2023.

Ask Raza what went wrong and why Zimbabwe have not been able to turn the tide around, he takes it upon himself. “I am a guy who likes to take it upon himself,” Raza tells this daily in an interaction facilitated by Sony Sports Network.

“So I think if I lead, I score the runs and if I take the wickets or if my economy is good, then that will make my team take a lot of confidence. So, a lot of the failures would have been down to my poor performances and not as much as my teammates. So, yeah, hopefully, try and lead with the bat and ball. And hopefully, my teammates will draw some confidence from that and they’ll be on board as well,”he added.

Zimbawe cricket team captain Sikandar Raza during a match vs India
Zimbabwe stuns India in nail-biting thriller, wins first T20 match of series

This was Raza on the eve of the five-match T20I series against India. On Saturday, the Zimbabwe captain lived up to his words. Despite posting a below-par 115/9, Raza rallied his team around in defence. The early wickets sure helped, but it was Raza who took it upon himself to deliver the fatal blows. A sharp carrom ball to castle Shubman Gill and then two more wickets to clean up the tail. Raza 3/25, Zimbabwe beat India by 13 runs.

It’s what Raza does irrespective of which team he plays for. Since his second coming after suffering a bone marrow infection, he has been a top-tier all-rounder in the shortest format. So much so that he is one of the most sought-after stars across franchise leagues. India, Pakistan, USA, Canada, UAE, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Caribbean, pick a region and Raza would be a part of some team. And he is doing so at the age of 38.

From being in a position of distraught after the country’s cricket board was suspended five years ago, this is an incredible turnaround for Raza. And he makes it clear that this is what he wants. “This is something that I want to do. So because I’ve decided that, nobody has forced me to do something. I do all the right sacrifices and all the right things that need to be done. If that means an early night, a rest day, I’ll have it. I train well, I hydrate myself. Never run away from training. Do not take a day off and just mentally be in that position so strong that this is what I want to do. I have utmost faith that if I train hard, the rest of the things will fall into place. And if it doesn’t, then it’s just a test from Allah and I keep going. It’s a promise from Allah that if you work hard, you will get rewarded. So I have nothing to worry about. My job is to work hard and that’s all I try,” he said.

Sunday was one such day as India handed Zimbabwe and Raza a 100-run defeat. But that would, in no way, distract the 38-year-old from what he needs to do. Come Wednesday, he will lead Zimbabwe onto the field with all the energy and positivity in him.

Watch India Tour of Zimbabwe, LIVE on Sony Sports Ten 5 SD & HD, Sony Sports Ten 3 SD & HD (Hindi), Sony Sports Ten 4 SD & HD (Tamil & Telugu).

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