Raza retained by Punjab Kings for 2024 IPL
Brandon Moyo, [email protected]
THIS year is proving to be yet another fruitful one for Zimbabwe international cricketer, Sikandar Raza, who will, for the second consecutive time, take part in the biggest franchise cricket league in the world, the Indian Premier League (IPL)
After an impressive campaign in his IPL debut earlier this year, the Chevrons star, has been retained by Punjab Kings for next year’s 17th edition of the IPL and will have his second stint in the biggest stage.
The Chevrons T20 captain is one of the 17 players who were retained by Punjab Kings ahead of next year’s season of the IPL. From the 17, six are overseas players including Sam Curran, the son of the late former Zimbabwe Cricket international, Kevin Curran.
Other players who got the second dance are Kagiso Rabada, Jonny Bairstow, Mathew Short, Liam Livingstone, Nathan Ellis and Bhanuka Rajapaksa.
Raza’s retaining was no surprise. He was an integral part of the Punjab Kings squad that finished at position eight out of 10 teams and will once again come in handy in his team’s quest to book their place in the play-offs for the first time since 2014.
He is considered as one of the important members of the team who will deliver as per the wishes of the club’s chief executive officer Satish Menon, who said he believes that they will function better with a group of players that know each other.
“We believe that you function better with a unit that has played together for a while, you may not have done so well in the previous season but we believe that it’s not just about one person but it’s a unit and that has been our philosophy. That is why we are going with the majority of the players from last season,” said Menon in a video interview posted by his team on X (formerly Twitter).
He said retaining and releasing players was not an easy, adding that the decision was made after evaluating various elements.
“It was very difficult to know who to release and who not to release. We went through several sessions of deciding who to release and not release. It came to a situation where some players had to be released despite the fact that we thought that we would want to retain all of them.
“Well, it’s a combination of data, insights and instincts or whatever you may call it because there is a lot of intervention by people with experience, who are actually part of our support and coaching team. That gives us a lot of strength in terms of being able to decide on players,” he said.
In his debut season, Raza made history by becoming the first Zimbabwean to score a half century and be named player of the match in the IPL. He top scored with 57 runs off 42 deliveries to help Punjab Kings beat Lucknow Super Giants. Raza took one wicket in two overs for 19 runs as they restricted Super Giants to 158/8 in 20 overs and went on to top score with 57 runs to help his team finish on 161/8 to win it with three balls remaining in the match.
Apart from being named player of the match, Raza was also named Commander of the Match by his team for his brilliant all round performance.
He joined an elite group of Zimbabwean players to have played in the IPL.
Prior to his debut early this year, Tatenda Taibu and Ray Price were the only Zimbabweans to have ever featured in the IPL. In 2014, Brendan Taylor was signed by Sunrisers
Hyderabad but never featured after he chose to delay his travel to India because of his wedding. He was then put on standby but never got the chance to play.
Raza will not be the only Zimbabwean in next year’s edition as he will join former Chevrons skipper and coach, Andy Flower who was named as the head coach of Royal
Challengers Bangalore (RCB), a team which has the likes of Virat Kohli and Faf Du Plessis.
Commencement dates for next year’s edition are yet to be confirmed.