Raza settling well in maiden IPL dance

ZIMBABWE cricket team star Sikandar Raza might be yet to reach his best in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League

ZIMBABWE cricket team star Sikandar Raza might be yet to reach his best in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League, but the all-rounder is determined to deliver for his side Punjab Kings.

Flying the flag as the sole Zimbabwean international at the tournament, Raza has made three appearances for Punjab Kings, collecting just 22 runs in the process, while also contributing with the ball.

In the last match on Sunday, Raza was introduced as an impact sub against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in order to resurrect his side’s chances at 63 for four in the ninth over. Raza was, however, unable to turn the tide after being undone trying to ramp India speedster Umran Malik as his team went on to succumb to their first defeat of the competition.

The 36-year-old, who has been impressed by the depth in the Punjab Kings’ squad, has backed his side to bounce back from Sunday’s defeat.

“I feel like we have got a very good squad, reasons being we play for one another, we play for the badge,” Raza said in an interview with the Punjab Kings’ official website ahead of today’s match against Gujarat Titans.

“We’re happy for each other's success. So, I guess these are small things that go a long way in winning the tournament, or doing well in the tournament,” Raza said.

“We play for the badge!”

Raza became the third Zimbabwean cricketer to feature in the IPL after Tatenda Taibu and Ray Price.

Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor was signed by the Hyderabad Sunrisers ahead of the 2014 edition of the IPL, but did not play a single match for the side.

Raza wasted no time in settling in the Punjab Kings after making his IPL debut against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali on April 1.

“I was watching the auction, yeah. I was in Nepal, and I was moving from one room to another, and the internet sort of was switching from the conference room to the team room, and that’s when I was picked. So, I didn’t even know that I was picked until I got to the team room, and everyone was hugging me, and my phone started to ring. Initially, I cancelled a few calls. I was like, I’m watching the auction, but the phone kept ringing. I took one important call, which was a friend of mine, who is an analyst of one of the IPL franchises. And he said congratulations, Punjab has picked you,” he added.

Raza has also revealed that he is very close to his PBKS teammate Bhanuka Rajapaksa, and that he has also made some new friends in the team.

“I’ve always been close to Bhanuka Rajapaksa because this is the fifth time we’re part of the same franchise. So, I’m very close to Bhanu in that way. But I’ve made friends with Atharva Taide, Jitesh Sharma, Arshdeep Singh and Harpeet Brar.”

Raza has been an integral member of the Zimbabwean side since making his international debut in 2013.

The veteran cricketer has scored over 3 000 runs in T20 cricket, including 20 fifties. He is also a handy bowler capable of bowling both spin and seam-up.

Follow Daniel on Twitter @danielnhakaniso

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