Raza makes winning IPL debut

Sikandar Raza

ZIMBABWE cricket team all-rounder Sikandar Raza started his Indian Premier League journey with a boundary on the first ball of his career in the cash-rich league as his side secured a seven-run win via the on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method in a rain-marred game against Kolkata Knight Riders in Mohali yesterday.

Raza came to bat at the number five spot after Jitesh Sharma’s departure.

The Zimbabwean star got off to the mark with a fine boundary off Tim Southee’s delivery. It was on the legs and Raza read it well to dispatch it for a boundary at the long leg at Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali.

Punjab debutants Sikandar Raza and Sam Curran put on 25 off 20 for the fifth wicket, and they hit an eye-catching six each during that stand.

However, he failed to continue the momentum and was dismissed of 16 by veteran Kolkata Knight Riders spinner Sunil Narine. Raza scored a six and a four during his 13-ball stay in the middle as Punjab Kings went on to reach a strong total of 191 for five.

Left-arm Arshdeep picked up three wickets as Kolkata — in pursuit of a 192-run target — had reached 146-7 in 16 overs before heavy rain took the players off the field.

Raza also contributed with the ball after claiming the crucial wicket of the Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Nitish Rana.

The Pakistan-born Zimbabwean was signed by Punjab Kings for around US$60 000 in the IPL 2023 mini-auction.

He became just the fourth Zimbabwe cricketer to be signed by an IPL side. Brandon Taylor, Ray Price and Tatenda Taibu are the remaining three Zimbabwe cricketers who previously took part in the high-profile T20 tournament.

He also became the first Zimbabwean player since IPL 2011 to get a chance in the playing XI for an IPL match. Earlier, Ray Price started for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2011.

Raza showcased a dazzling display at the T20 World Cup last year. He also played a key role in guiding Lahore Qalandars to the Pakistan Super League (PSL) title this year. After playing 66 matches in T20Is, Raza has scored 1259 runs at a strike rate of 128.86. The 36-year-old has notched up six half-centuries in T20I cricket.

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