Sikandar Raza hails Zimbabwe's finest moment as Pakistan edge closer to T20 World Cup exit

Babar Azam's side facing early end of campaign after second final-ball defeat in the space of four nights in Australia

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How many upsets do there need to be before it just becomes the standard setting? Underdogs in the T20 World Cup of 2022? There really is no such thing.

Where Namibia, Scotland and Ireland had gone before in this competition, Zimbabwe followed as they stunned Pakistan in Perth. Winners, by a single run, off the final delivery of the first completed T20 World Super 12 match in their history.

In the euphoric aftermath, some of their players appeared on the brink of tears. Others raced to their joyous supporters, led celebrations, waved flags and took selfies.

Sikandar Raza, player of the match for the third time already in the competition, said it was Zimbabwe’s finest moment of his memory.

“Since I have been part of Zimbabwe cricket, I would rate that as the best victory we have had,” said Raza, who was born in Sialkot in Pakistan.

“There is no better stage. This is the World Cup, the biggest stage of all. To beat Pakistan by one run, [defending] a modest total, you are going to have to do everything right.

“For me, that has to be the best victory I have been part of with Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe had looked set for a far more commanding total after a fast start, but were pegged back to 130-8.

Mohammed Wasim took four wickets, and Shadab Khan three, while Haris Rauf went for just 12 from his four overs.

Zimbabwe’s defence was courageous, though, particularly via their new-ball attack of Richard Ngarava and Blessing Muzarabani, while Raza took three crucial wickets.

When Mohammed Nawaz hit the fourth ball of the penultimate over for six, it breathed life back into the chase, and he seemed set for a personal redemption after his horror finish against India in the opening match.

They were left needing 11 to win off the last over. Brad Evans limited them to nine.

“It's so special, especially for the work that we did to get into the Super 12s,” Craig Ervine, Zimbabwe’s captain, said.

“We didn't want our tournament to end there. We wanted to come in and play some really good cricket against some top teams and I thought we did that exceptionally well today.”

Pakistan – players and fans equally – will not be able to take much more of this. For the second time in four nights, their nerves were perforated.

Already, just two games in to the tournament, they are on the brink of having their chances of progressing extinguished. The one saving grace is that the narrowness of the two defeats means their net run-rate difference remains negligible.

It feels like they need to be perfect from here, though, and hope results in other games got their way.

“To be honest, it is hard, but we have two days in which to sit together [before they face Netherlands on Saturday] and discuss,” Babar Azam, their captain, said.

“We were not up to the mark in all three departments. We will discuss our mistakes and try to come back strongly.”

Updated: October 27, 2022, 4:01 PM
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