Sikandar Raza, amidst a purple patch since making a comeback in the home series against Bangladesh in 2021, had an extra motivation in Friday’s ODI series opener against the same opposition in Harare. Raza was part of the Zimbabwe side that beat Bangladesh in 2013, but since then have lost 19 consecutive matches in the format before putting an end to that streak on Friday.
Chasing a daunting 304, Zimbabwe were down to 62 for 3 and in need of a big stand. Raza and Innocent Kaya came together but it wasn’t easy for the senior pro to keep going, after he was struck by a Taskin Ahmed delivery on his knee off an inside edge in the 26th over.
“When I pulled that ball I had an inside edge and it went on to the inside of my knee where there was no padding,” Raza said. “It was tough at that point but the way I felt at that time was that the momentum was starting to shift towards us and Inno was batting really well. I didn’t want a new batter to come and start again. I was also thinking that if I have to comeback (after being retired hurt) in next 30-40 minutes, I have to start again.”
“So all I wanted was to buy my time out there, and I said to myself if I give myself time, the body gets warm and then take medicine, use the spray and Inshallah we see where I am at. Yeah the first 40 minutes was really tough but Alhamdulillah it worked out pretty well in the end,” he added.
The motivation to fight it out harder – even in the face of an injury like this – came from the fact that Raza wanted to avoid adding another defeat to his opponents on the night.
“I am one of those guys who looks at the stats you know, and I saw that stats yesterday, I read an article that says Bangladesh have got I think 20 (wins) up on us. I looked at it and I was like you know guys it would be nice if we win the game.
“I think at the start we were too low in energy and we got together and we said guys this is not the right attitude and the coach actually said that in the warm-up as well and that got us to bring those energy levels up and the result,” he said.
At the innings break, Zimbabwe’s dressing room exuded confidence – led by Raza’s words – even as the they were looking at a chase of 304. “We got together at the changing room and I actually initiated that we got our batters together and I said guys Inshallah we will win this game three overs to spare.
“When I walked out all I did was trying to get to small targets and I kept saying to Inno this is what the team wants us to do and this is what we have to do for the team. Once the team needs is fulfilled you can do whatever you want but now we got to do what the team requires, and our first job was to go 25 to 30 and then 35 to 40 (overs) and after that it was run a ball,” he said.
Raza also credited the presence of towering personalities like Dave Houghton and Lance Klusener for the positive mental space within the dressing room.
“When he speaks, it is very substantial, it’s very heavy and it’s to the point. I think when he speaks he only speaks for a little while but it holds a lot of meaning and the team buys into what he is saying and there is lot of respect towards our coach and there is lot of love giving back to the team. The dressing room is in very good mental space and that’s why these things happen,” Raza said.
“Dave is very clear that it is not our XI players that win us the game but it’s the whole squad. So when you replace somebody it’s because you possess the same quality as the other guy and you believe in yourself.
“I thought Inno was special today. Lance Klusener is very big on one thing and that is to put the team on a position and so Luke Jongwe can come and do what he is assigned to do (finishing role). So when Inno and I were batting, we said you know this is our role and we should fulfill it so that Burly and Milton and power hitters can execute their roles when when they come in. They shouldn’t have to do our roles. So that whole mentality came from Lance,” he said.
Having already bested Bangladesh in the T20I series, Zimbabwe will now look to seal the ODI rubber as well when the teams meet for the second game on Sunday.
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