Raza strikes IPL gold

Sikandar Raza has been rewarded for a brilliant year in T20 cricket.

ZIMBABWE national cricket team all-rounder, Sikandar Raza has been rewarded for a brilliant year in T20 cricket after he was signed by the Punjab Kings for the 16th edition of the money spinning Indian Premier League (IPL) during the player auction in Kochi yesterday.

Raza is set to become the first Zimbabwe player to play in the IPL in almost a decade since former captain Brendan Taylor was signed by Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2014, but did not play a single match for the Orange Army.

The only other Zimbabwean cricketers to have played in the IPL are Ray Price and Tatenda Taibu.

Punjab Kings got Raza at his base price of INR 50 lakh (approximately US$61 408,80) after opening the bidding and no other team opted to take the in-demand player.

The Mohali-based side has never won the IPL title, but topped the league in 2014 and finished runners-up in the competition and made just one other play-off appearance in 2013.

It was expected that Raza would finally break into one of the biggest T20 cricket franchises after a memorable year in which he almost single handedly helped Zimbabwe qualify or the T20 World Cup which concluded in Australia last month.

At the T20 World Cup, Raza won the Player of the Match on three occasions scoring 82 against Ireland and taking three wickets against the West Indies as Zimbabwe reached the Super 12 stage for the first time.

After his exploits, he was named in the Upstox Most Valuable Team of the ICC Men’s T20World Cup 2022.

The 36-year-old cricketer has already played tournaments in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Sri Lanka since the T20 World Cup while he is also scheduled to compete in the Pakistan Super League, the Bangladesh Premier League and the International League T20 (ILT20) in the UAE in 2023.

At Punjab Kings, Raza will also have an opportunity to rub shoulders with the 2022 ICC Mens’ Cricket World Cup player of the tournament England all-rounder Sam Curran who was signed for Rs 18,25 crore (US$2,23 million), making him the most expensive player in IPL auction history.

Curran is the son of the late former Zimbabwe international and coach Kevin Curran and was raised in the country before moving to England following his father’s death.

Meanwhile, Raza has also made it into the Wisden’s men’s T20I team of the year following an impressive year in the format of the game.

He was voted ICC Player of The Month in August, while he was also recognised for his performances at the World Cup by making the team of the tournament.

This year alone, Raza played 24 T20 international matches, managing 735 runs and 25 wickets.

Also making the Team Of The Year were Jos Buttler, Mohammad Rizwan, Suryakumar Yadav, Glenn Phillips, David Miller, Shadab Khan, Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Haris Rauf and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

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