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Raza, Ngarava make history

Sikandar Raza

FOR the first time in history, Zimbabwe has two representatives in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s T20 Team of the Year 2023.All-rounder Sikandar Raza who made the cut for the second straight year and bowler, Richard Ngarava, are the two stars who made it on to the list announced by the cricket’s governing body yesterday.

The team, which is dominated by Indians, with four of them making the list, recognised 11 outstanding individuals who impressed throughout 2023, be it with the bat, the ball or their all-round exploits.

This is the first time that Zimbabwe has landed two players on the list since the awards started.This is despite the Chevrons missing out on this year’s ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup.

Irrespective of his nation’s struggles, a team he captains, it was another emphatic year for Raza, going back-to-back after also sliding in at No 6 in the 2022 team.The all-rounder, who is also shortlisted for the T20 Cricketer of the Year award, was consistent with bat in hand across the year making at least 20 in nine of his 11 innings across the year.

He began with two fifties in his first three T20 innings of his year, making 82* (35) and 52 (36) against Namibia away from home.During the series, Raza also claimed 4/24 (4) in the final match of the series.

Attention turned to the Africa Qualifier, where Raza shone despite Zimbabwe’s plight at the tournament.His lowest score came making 48 (39) in a defeat to Uganda, passing the half-century mark in his other three knocks, most notably a score of 82 (48).Raza also claimed multiple wickets in all but one of the Africa Qualifier matches, also claiming 3/28 (4) in a meeting with Ireland in their bilateral series meeting at the end of the year.

Besides Raza, Ngarava also had a stellar year in the shortest format of the game.Troubling many a batter with his pace and bounce, six-foot-four left-armer Ngarava was a nightmare prospect in 2023.Finishing with 26 wickets in 15 matches, Ngarava only conceded 5.63 runs per over, taking a wicket every 12.1 deliveries.

Ngarava began the year with figures of 2/20 (3) against Ireland on home Harare soil, before taking 1/32 two days later against the same opponent.Attention moved to the T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier, where Ngarava claimed a wicket in every match. He went on to top the tournament tally, claiming 13 wickets at 8.23.

Ngarava finished the year with five wickets in three home matches when Ireland visited again in December.While Raza and Ngarava made the cut in the men’s team, no Zimbabwean made the XI in the ICC women’s team of the year.ICC Men’s T20I Team of the Year 2023:

Suryakumar Yadav (captain), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Phil Salt, Nicholas Pooran (wicket-keeper), Mark Chapman, Sikandar Raza, Alpesh Ramjani, Mark Adair, Ravi Bishnoi, Richard Ngarava, Arshdeep Singh

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