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‘THE FIRST GAME PLAYED A HUGE ROLE IN BELIEVING WE CAN WIN’

 

 

Following his pivotal all-round display in the series decider, Sikandar Raza talks about Zimbabwe’s mindset during their historic series win against Sri Lanka

A day after their historic 3-2 ODI series win over Sri Lanka, the achievement was still sinking in for the Zimbabwe players. Sikandar Raza, one of the star performers in the series-deciding fifth ODI, spoke to ESPNcricinfo soon after having breakfast with his team-mates, about the winning moment, his chasing skills and how Zimbabwe got themselves into a winning mindset.

It was just an innings of 27 runs in the fifth ODI, but it was very important for you and the team…
It was just 27 runs but a mate told me this was the most useful and important 27 runs of your career and ours. There was history in the making. It is an incredible feeling to be able to do that. It is difficult to describe the feeling. We just had breakfast together but it is still sinking in. No one has words to explain how we feel. It is just an amazing feeling.

What were you telling Graeme Cremer when you were putting together that crucial partnership?
It was slightly nervy because, when I walked in, Sean Williams had just gone out and he is a big player. We still needed 60-odd runs to win. [Tarisai] Musakanda got out. [Malcolm] Waller and PJ [Moor] got out quite early as well. Cremer has done it at international level. He is more than a capable batter. There wasn’t much that was said. I was breaking the chase down into small things. I was just talking about which way the ball was moving and turning to Cremer. He batted extremely well under that much pressure.

Before the batting, there was the bowling. What’s the secret behind 3 for 21 in 10 overs?
There’s no secret. My economy has been okay the whole series. I have bowled well in patches. It is just that the wicket column had nothing in it. We were playing on a used track, we just had to find the right pace for the track. It was to bowl slightly slow and my main aim was to find some turn. The moment I do that, it would create doubt with my sliders. It started to turn, and that always helps.

Zimbabwe hadn’t won a top-level series for two years. What was the mindset like, coming to Sri Lanka?
The guys stood up in the NetherlandsScotland and Sri Lanka. It was lovely to see everyone making useful contributions. We always want to win, but sometimes we didn’t believe ourselves that we can win. I think the first game here – the record chase – was the start of many good things to come. The first game played a huge role in believing we can win games from any situation.

You average over 70 in matches Zimbabwe have won, particularly while they are chasing. What is it that gets you going in a chase?
I would like to think that I want to bat better in the first innings. When you’re batting second, chasing plays a lot on your mind. It can be a difficult and daunting task. I do have a picture of where I need to be, how I break it down. I have managed to do that in the recent times, perhaps.

Zimbabwe have done well in the past, the 1999 World Cup obviously comes to mind. After this win, what is the immediate plan for you guys? You would definitely want to build from this…
This series should give us belief, and rightly so. To beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka is something not many teams have been able to do. The next target is to play a good Test match against them as well. We know West Indies are coming to play two Tests in October, so we are looking forward to that as well.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

 

 

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