The 36-year-old Pakistani-born Zimbabwe all-rounder Sikandar Raza has said that he is “really happy, humble and excited” to finally get an Indian Premier League (IPL) contract.
Raza, who was one of the most experienced players to go under the auction hammer in Kochi, has delivered highly impactful performances both with bat and ball in recent times. In the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022, he smashed 219 runs in eight games at a strike rate of almost 148, and with the ball, he bagged 10 wickets.
He entered the IPL mini-auction on Friday, December 23, with a base price of INR 50 lakh. He was signed by the Punjab Kings at his base price of INR 50 lakh and will become just the fourth player from Zimbabwe, after Ray Price, Tatenda Taibu, and Brandon Taylor to participate in the cash-rich league.
Meanwhile, Sikandar Raza said that he always wanted to participate in the Indian Premier League (IPL) before retiring from cricket.
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“It was part of my thinking that before I hang my boots up, it would be nice to have the IPL on my CV,” Raza told ESPNcricinfo.
“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, who is currently in Kathmandu, further revealed that he didn’t watch his bid live because his internet connection dropped.
“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!” Sikandar Raza told ESPNcricinfo.
It has been incredible. It has been life and career-changing – Sikandar Raza on the year 2022
Sikandar Raza has had a sensational run in the year 2022 and he labelled 2022 as a life-changing and career-changing year for him.
“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.
“The top three would be the hundred against India, and beating Ireland and Pakistan in the T20 World Cup,” Raza said.
Sikandar Raza further talked about how a video call with new coaching director Dave Houghton has turned out to be a major turning point in his career. He elaborated:
“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.”
“I used to see other cricketers go from one league to another, and on to another. Allah has given me this opportunity, so I will not complain about anything – the wicket, weather or changing environment, culture and changing room. I will just be grateful, which makes everything else easier.”