July 24, 2013 was by no means an ordinary date for the Zimbabwe cricket fan. After all, it wasn’t an ordinary day for the cricket team either. Zimbabwe were about to enter the first of the five one-dayers against a side that had names like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohd. Shami.
And in this very first contest the team bundled out for just 228 runs.
For any international side, let alone India with Virat Kohli in peak form during those days, a target of 229 was anything but imposing, although one can never much about teams like the West Indies.
Anyhow, it took the sub-continental visitors less than 45 overs to wrap up the run chase. Virat Kohli, who just recently completed fourteen years in international cricket, bagged the man-of-the-match performance scoring a blinder: 115 off 108.
And the Indian cricket fan was, expectedly, unabashedly happy as anyone would with his respective team blanking an opponent with ease.
But truth is, there was more about this 50-over contest that we need to remember, but perhaps don’t.
There was more about that Harare one-dayer than meets the eye.
Zimbabwe reached 228 at the back of a young man’s batting belligerence. His name? Sikandar Raza. His contribution? 82 valuable runs collected of just 112 deliveries.
What we remember about the right hander is that he’s, truly speaking, one of the finest cricketers Zimbabwe have had, especially during a period of turmoil, which sadly seems to be a never ending.
What we also remember perhaps given that they happened very recently, are the two glorious centuries against Bangladesh. Had Sikandar Raza’s 117 and 135, both unbeaten knocks, not have happened, where might have Zimbabwe been in the recent one dayers?
But what we ought to remember is that nine years back in the day, the Sialkot-born was just as passionate and on the go in the sport as he is today.
Perhaps to most of us, it hasn’t even appeared that the 82 against India was Sikandar Raza’s maiden 50-over outing against the side, and his fourth overall.
Having said that, while the dependable all rounder, whose heart beats for Zimbabwe has gone on to make lots of runs against Afghanistan and Bangladesh, even Pakistan, it’s his record against India that he’d like to work on, especially in one-dayers.
For someone whose batting average in the limited overs format is a healthy thirty six, Sikandar Raza must- and can- do a lot more against the dominant world-beating side.
Sikandar Raza’s ODI record vs India
It goes without saying that Sikandar Raza would bag the first given chance to improve his India outings in ODI cricket. Moreover, with an outing that produced just 12 runs hours ago, it’s a great chance to make amends on August 20, which isn’t that far anyway.
Over the years, the batsman with 96 wickets in white-ball cricket has become a pillar of strength, one around whom the side often revolves. Together, with names like Craig Ervine, Sean Williams and Regis Chakabva, Sikandar Raza’s presence creates a quartet that only the unwise would like to take lightly.
Well, that’s unless you are the director of Bangladesh cricket teaml, who called losing to Zimbabwe a ‘disgrace’ when that phrase could have been avoided since maybe choosing the right usage of words is still free of cost in this modern world.
Sikandar Raza’s overall ODI record
|Matches||Runs||Fifties, Hundreds||H. Score||Average|
However, with a record like the above, only the uninformed would say that Sikandar Raza’s ODI resume isn’t strong. But, it can grow stronger. The time is now. The opportunity is ripe.
May the best team prevail at the end of the next two one dayers.