Zimbabwe allrounder Sikandar Raza is in love with Nepal.
Raza, who played for 2017 champions Biratnagar Warriors in the ongoing Everest Premier League, is one of the stars to watch in the tournament. Confident to win the title when he first landed in Kathmandu, Raza and his Warriors had to face the ignominy of being knocked out from the group stage.
But Raza was lauded for his impressive presentation when he sat in his first and only press conference at the TU grounds after Warriors edged Kathmandu Kings XI, signing off from the tournament with their only win.
“I am disappointed with the results but I think there is more to achieve than just win or loss. I’ve made a lot of good friends and a lot of good memories, not just with the team but the people of Nepal as well. They’ve been very loving and caring and respectful,” said a fluent Raza.
“We couldn’t win as much as we wanted to but I will take back a lot of fond memories and hopefully will be back some other time to bring the title.”
Nepal, being a One Day International nation, can play with any other ODI nation including the Test sides. The status has allowed Nepal to have a fixture with Zimbabwe but Raza wants to go beyond that cricketing relation.
“Not only this ground, I would love to bring Zimbabwe to Nepal. Hopefully the COVID will be over. I will be very much sure that this will be one of the best tours that Zimbabwe will have. This is not only about cricket. It is you people of Nepal who actually ended up showing us a lots of love than initially I thought,” he added.
“My idea to bring Zimbabwe isn’t just for cricket. It is for us guys to enjoy your hospitality and love you have to give us. Not just Zimbabwe but for any other country. I mean in my opinion I am just looking for that a lot.”
Raza was roped in by Warriors upon recommendation from former national cricket team skipper Paras Khadka. He also led the franchise in previous editions but pulled out from the current tournament citing personal reasons.
Not having Paras by his side on the ground could have affected Warriors’ performance but for Raza the relation with former Nepal captain is not confined inside a cricket ground.
“My relation with Paras is lot more than just cricketing relation, so I respect his decision. I am very sure that one day we will get to play one another and if we don’t then we will have our friendship. We will catch up on a cup of coffee, tea, dinner. There is a lot more to life than just a cricket match,” Raza spoke with a grin.
“Paras and I have crossed that barrier of friendship. So we are lot more closer. If we don’t play together, I am still happy. There is a lot more to come in life. I was praying for him to play. We really missed him but there was more to achieve than just the results as well and that was to make sure that we groom. We are not just here to showcase our talent but also pass out knowledge of the game, the little bit of knowledge that we have. And hopefully, we have done a good job and Insallah we want some of these Warriors guys to be back to be playing for Nepal and represent their country,” he said.
In absence of the mercurial Paras, Sikandar has taken the charge to motivate the youngsters. Anil Sah, who smashed a 16-ball 45 — one of the quickest cameos in EPL history — signed off from the tournament with a forgetful outing barring Monday’s innings. For him, Sikandar has been a motivator.
“Sikandar was like a senior player to us when Paras dai is not around. We were not that comfortable with language with other players but Raza was motivating everyone, integrating within the group,” said Sah after earning his second man-of-the-match in EPL.