Sikandar Raza's foray into the sport is unlike any other. But does it matter that cricket wasn't his dream, when he's so good at it?
Forgetting his first love -- to be a fighter pilot -- Raza has flourished in the sport, which was just a childhood game.
A gritty half-century from the Pakistan-born Zimbabwean cricketer saw Punjab Kings return to winning ways in IPL 2023, with a thrilling win over the Lucknow Super Giants on Saturday, April 15, 2023.
Punjab entered the match on the back of two consecutive losses. And the department which needed to step up was the batting unit.
Though there's plenty of room to improve, Raza lifted the team's hopes with a solid half-century -- which it would be safe to say was the key to Punjab's third win this season.
After opting to bowl first, Punjab's bowlers restricted Lucknow to 159/8, despite LSG Skipper K L Rahul scoring his first half-century this season.
Lucknow Openers Rahul and Kyle Mayers guided LSG to their best Powerplay this IPL, 49 for no loss.
But the hosts failed to build on this strong start, with the Punjab bowlers, led by stand-in skipper Sam Curran, restricting Lucknow to a below-par total.
Many thought the chase would be a walk in park, but it quickly turned into another enthralling contest. LSG reduced Punjab to 45/3 in the Powerplay, taking early control of the contest.
A solid innings from Raza put the visitors back in control. As the top-order crumbled, Raza took charge with a 41-ball 57, striking his maiden IPL half-century.
Raza's dream to become a fighter pilot was dashed when he failed an eye test. A 'common' problem, he was told. But there's nothing common about a cricketer who is still dominating the skies with massive sixes.
During his match-winning knock at the Ekana sports city stadium, Raza hammered three huge sixes and four boundaries.
Though the 36 year old would have wanted to finish the job, Ravi Bishnoi took that dream away.
Shahrukh Khan hit the winning runs as Punjab rode on Raza's knock to clinch a two-wicket win.
The Zimbabwean all-rounder, who took a wicket and a stellar catch, rightfully walked away with the Player Of The Match trophy.