“Happy and humbled” with an IPL contract, Sikandar Raza ends a dream year
Sikandar Raza has desired a career as a successful cricket player. Players have been seen travelling between other T20 leagues across the world in his immediate vicinity. He’s pretty well achieved his lifelong dream of joining them now.
Along with domestic T20 competitions in Afghanistan and Nepal, he has participated in the Pakistan Super League, Caribbean Premier League, Bangladesh Premier League, and Lanka Premier League. For the Biratnagar Super Kings, he is now playing in Kathmandu. He would travel to Dhaka for the BPL the following month.
He was purchased by Punjab Kings today at the 2023 IPL auction, thus come March he will be playing in the most well-known franchise league of them all.
The Punjabi-born all-rounder from Zimbabwe was extremely enthusiastic about the possibility.
“Before I put up my boots, I thought it would be wonderful to have the IPL on my resume”,Raza added.
“Alhamdulillah (thank God) it has happened. I am really happy, humble and excited at the same time. I would have [been fine with] any franchise but to have a Punjabi munda in Punjab, it is a great match.”
Sikandar Raza was watching the IPL auction in Kathmandu when the internet connection failed just as his name was spoken. His turn had already passed by the time he went online once more.
“I was in training today. I was calm. Sometimes I was nervous. I went through all the emotions before the auction.
“We went back to the hotel. Then there was an anti-corruption meeting [while the auction was on]. When it was my turn at the IPL auction, I was moving from one room to another, and the internet got disconnected.
“While it was connecting back again, I started getting a lot of messages from my friends, congratulating me. I said, ‘what, I can’t see it. Are you guys playing a prank?’ They said check the auction. I said I am checking but I haven’t even been up there.
“What happened was, by the time I reconnected, I had gone already. So basically I didn’t see the bid. Maybe that was a good thing actually. I reckon it’s a good thing. If I was watching, I would have shouted in the meeting!“
Raza has had a fantastic year, helping Zimbabwe defeat Bangladesh in ODI and T20I series, scoring a century against India, and securing a first-ever victory against Australia in Australia.
The Men’s T20 World Cup followed, where they upset Pakistan in thrilling fashion. Most of these significant events involved Raza, both with the bat and the ball.
“It has been incredible. It has been life and career changing. Every time I have won a Player-of-the-Match trophy, I kiss my mum’s hand and give her the trophy. The best part of these few months is that I have handed her over a lot of trophies. I think the trophy cabinet is full now. To sum it up, I would say that making my parents proud has been the highlight.”
And the standouts from the field?
“The top three would be the hundred against India, and beating Ireland and Pakistan in the T20 World Cup,”Raza said, after much thinking.
All of this comes after Zimbabwe had to compete in a tournament to earn a spot in the T20 World Cup, and Raza wasn’t mentally fit months before. According to Raza, a video conversation with the new coaching director Dave Houghton was a crucial turning point.
“Without going into too many details, I wasn’t enjoying my cricket. My first meeting with Dave Houghton was via a WhatsApp video call. I was in Rajshahi, Bangladesh. That one meeting changed a lot of things for me. I was expecting a firm order that ‘I want you back on this day.’
“But all he said was, ‘Son, you are playing cricket. Make sure you win the trophy. Enjoy it. I will see you when you come back’. That’s all he said to me, and it changed a lot of things in my mind. It was a turning point. Dave Houghton has played a huge role.”