Pakistan-born Southern Rocks batsman Sikandar Raza on Tuesday expressed his delight at finally receiving a call- up to the national cricket team after being named in a 32-man training squad ahead of engagements against Australian and South African A teams next month.
Raza (25) on Tuesday took part in a batting net session with his fellow national team players under assistant coach Steven Mangongo and batting coach Grant Flower.
After the extensive workout the talented opener told NewsDay Sport said he was excited at the prospect of finally being on the verge of representing his adopted nation and took time to explain how he felt after hearing “the good news”.
“I was just overwhelmed with excitement. The adrenalin was obviously rushing and it felt like I had taken a step closer to realising my dream.
“As for the completion of my citizenship, all I can say is that there has been a massive development and people have been running around and literally I cannot thank them enough,” said Raza.
Raza made his intention of representing the country known after hitting a crackling match-winning knock of 93 runs off 48 balls in the Stanbic Twenty20 competition early this year.
On Tuesday, he thanked all the players and the technical department in the training squad for the support they had given him for the past month that he has been training with the national team.
“For the one moth that I have been training with the guys I can already feel a massive difference in my game, physically, technically and emotionally.”
The aggressive opening batsman, who could be Zimbabwe’s solution to the problematic opening batting combination, emigrated from Pakistan with his family in 2002 as a 15-year-old. He played his first games for Northerns towards the end of the 2006- 2007 season.
He then moved to Scotland to study at Langside College, turning up briefly as Colne’s professional in the Lancashire League and also getting a game for Weirs in the Scotland Cup.
He returned to Zimbabwe with a Bachelor’s degree in software engineering and quickly moved from the Southern Rocks B side and later to their first XI where he has cemented his place, playing alongside other national team players like Craig Ervine and Chamu Chibhabha.
He made his mark in limited-overs cricket first and was Southern Rocks’ leading run-scorer in the 2010-’11 Stanbic Bank 20 series.