INTERVIEW: If you remain honest, the game will reward you. – Raza

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By New Age

Zimbabwe all-rounder Sikandar Raza is enjoying a purple patch in his career thanks to his sublime batting over the last year. His swashbuckling batting against the likes of Bangladesh, India, and Australia helped him be nominated in the final shortlist for ICC Men’s ODI Player of the Year. Raza earned the award by scoring 1,380 runs at an average of 40.58 with three hundreds and taking 33 wickets from 39 games in 2022, propelling Zimbabwe to new heights. The 36-year-old, who is featuring for Rangpur Riders in this edition of the Bangladesh Premier League, shared a few things with New Age’s Mahibur Hillol in an interview. Here are the excerpts: 

New Age: Your appearance in the BPL this time is quite different from previous tournaments. How are you feeling when the respective franchise is looking after you with a bigger expectation?

Sikandar Raza: The expectations are higher, and that’s okay. That’s a good thing. If someone is expecting better things from me, that’s because of a lot of work and things you may have achieved. Expectation is good, as it is pushing my own personal graph to do better as well.

NA: In the previous editions, things didn’t go the same way?

Raza: The best thing is being a part of the Rangpur Riders. Our team goal is to just win the games. It doesn’t matter what names we have signed as long as we win and we are contributing to winning the games. So, I felt personally that the first game went okay, as you said, because I came with big expectations.

NA: You are a pretty regular face in the competition. So how do you evaluate the tournament?

Raza: This is my fourth BPL, twice with Chattogram, one with Khulna and first time for Rangpur. I’m not sure whether this is BPL number nine or 10. Basically, I have played the half of it. Even I am not able to play all of it but will feature in the half of it. I am not a big believer in comparisons between this [BPL] and other leagues.

NA: Can you take us on your journey in the last year, which has helped you to be nominated for the ICC Player of the Year award? You have played some good knocks against teams like Bangladesh, India, especially in the World Cup. What changes have you brought to the process?

Raza: Perhaps I was always working hard; perhaps I switched to working smartly, which is part of the game. But I always said that if I can play a game with utmost honesty and uphold the integrity the game will reward you. Sometimes it takes longer to get the reward, sometimes it comes earlier, but it always comes.

NA: Why you were missing in the middle?

Raza: I didn’t enjoy the national dressing room as much as I am enjoying it now.

NA: You underwent long-term medication due to a bone marrow disease that was suspected to be cancer in 2021. So how did you motivate yourself during that period?

Raza: I knew that when I had two surgeries, I remember my father came back from Pakistan. We always knew that this is not done. So mentally I was very strong, and my father was always there.

NA: What are your feelings regarding your inclusion in the IPL for the first time?

Raza: I didn’t see it coming. I was nervous, I was anxious. A lot of emotions were going in my head. Those 48-hours! Even when I was training, my mind was always there. Such a big tournament! And then, once I was chosen, I believe people were much happier than I was. I think my family and friends who care for me became happier and more excited than I was.

NA: Sikandar Raza is now a big name in global cricket. How would you evaluate it?

Raza: Although I don’t think so, I always try to keep myself away from all sorts of emotions. I am still where I was ten years ago. I was hungry and was determined to be in the top four names.