By Sports Reporter
CRICKET star Sikandar Raza became the first Zimbabwean to score a half-century in the Indian Premier League (IPL) to inspire his side Punjab Kings to a two-wicket victory against the Lucknow Super Giants on Saturday.
The 36-year-old allrounder was named the Player of the Match after an entertaining knock of 57 off 41 which guided his team to victory while chasing a competitive score of 160.
Raza’s side had found the going tough in the absence of their captain Shikar Dhawan which meant the Zimbabwean was promoted up to bat at number four.
Having struggled to make an impact with the bat in their earlier matches, Raza initially struggled to score freely but once he got settled he put on a brilliant show as he completed his fifty off 34 balls.
Raza shared crucial partnerships with Harpreet Brar and Sam Curran. Despite his dismissal late on, he had helped in laying the foundation for his team’s win.
Earlier in the match, Raza also trapped Deepak Hooda in front of the stumps with his left-arm spin bowling. LSG were restricted to 159/8 in 20 overs after being asked to bat first. Raza has so far scored 79 runs and picked two wickets for Punjab Kings in the IPL 2023 season.
“It feels great, to be honest,” he said of his match-winning display.
“When I got out, there were a few demons. Credit to Shahrukh for the way he finished. If we had not won, I might not have felt so good. (On the pressure) It is one of the biggest stages and now that you are here, you want to do well. I had average games (prior to tonight) so that was the emotion I was carrying as well but it was important to channelise it,” he said.