Pakistan took a strong hit at the ongoing T20 World Cup as the Men In Green suffered a heartbreaking loss against Zimbabwe in Perth on Thursday. The low-scoring affair saw Pakistan suffer a one run defeat against minnows Zimbabwe, with Sikandar Raza emerging as the standout player from their camp.

The all-rounder didn’t do much with the bat as Zimbabwe managed just 130/8 on the board after opting to bat first. However, it was his clinical performance with the ball, which pushed Pakistan on backfoot as they were eventually restricted to 129/8 during the intense run chase.

Shortly after the outcome, Raza, who dismissed Shadab Khan, Haider Ali, and Shan Masood, credited Australia great Ricky Ponting behind his match-winning show. “I know there was a small clip that was sent to me this morning and it was Ricky Ponting having a small word. I was excited. I was nervous. I was thrilled about today. Motivation was always there, but if I needed that little push, I thought that clip did a wonder this morning. So thank you very much to Ricky as well,” the Zimbabwe all-rounder told the broadcasters after the match.

Raza was referring to a video of Ponting available on ICC’s media channels, where he highlighted the progress made by the all-rounder, while citing the example of his former colleagues Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

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Raza bagged seven player-of-the-match awards in 2022, the most among all the other cricketers. “In the T20 game, because it’s such a moment-based game where it comes down to the result of one particular ball, the older, more experienced guys have a better way of thinking their way through situations, knowing exactly what’s required here and now and then going and doing it,” Ponting said in the video. “I said about Sikandar Raza at the at the start – the maturity side, he just seems to know exactly what to do, when to do it and he has been good enough to get it done.

“All the best players in the game that I’ve known, and crossing other sports as well, is when those big pressure moments come, that’s what they want. You know Shane Warne was a great example of that, Glenn McGrath was a great example of that. Those players, they want that big moment, they want that stage and when they get there, they’re not going to let it slip. They are gonna make the most of it and make sure they get the job done. And that’s what’s Sikander has done so beautifully,” he added.

Apart from the encounter against Pakistan, Raza has been a key player for Zimbabwe in the ongoing T20 World Cup. He scored a brilliant 82 against Ireland in the first round and has been equally effective with the ball, which adds up to eight wickets from five matches. With the bat he has so far amassed 145 runs at a strike-rate of 149.48.

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