Zimbabwean international cricketer, Sikandar Raza Butt was born on 24 April 1986 in Sialkot to Punjabi speaking Muslim parents of Kashmiri roots. He studied at the Pakistan Air Force Public School Lower Topa for three years wanting to be a
Sikandar Raza Butt
Zimbabwean international cricketer, Sikandar Raza Butt was born on 24 April 1986 in Sialkot to Punjabi speaking Muslim parents of Kashmiri roots. He studied at the Pakistan Air Force Public School Lower Topa for three years wanting to be a Pakistan Air Force pilot, but his dreams were cut short when he failed a vision test mandatory for selection.
Subsequently, Sikandar Raza went to Scotland, where he pursued a bachelor's degree in software engineering at the Glasgow Caledonian University. It was here where he played semi-professional all formats cricket but primarily as a batsman realising his potential.
He migrated to Zimbabwe in 2001 along with his family and soon became one of the best batsman in the domestic competition. He played List A cricket originally for Northerns but later switched to play for Mashonaland Eagles. He made his List A debut in 2007.
After the revamping of Zimbabwe's domestic structure in 2009, he went on to play first-class cricket for the Mashonaland Eagles. He is a successful first-class cricketer, with a top score of 146. He made his Twenty20 debut for the Southern Rocks in 2010 against the Desert Vipers. He turned out to be a Twenty20 specialist, and was the leading run-scorer in the 2010 Stanbic Bank T20 Competition.
In the Metbank Pro40 Championship Final in 2010, he scored a brilliant 44 for Southern Rocks as they cruised to the title against Mid-West Rhinos. It was his first big performance that caught the eye of selectors. In January 2011, he achieved his career best List-A score of 80 runs.
His performances earned him a place in the preliminary squad for Zimbabwe's 2011 Cricket World Cup campaign, but did not make it to the final squads. By then he had another fine performance, at the Masvingo Sports Club where his opening stand of 161 with Chamu Chibhabha, simply by bludgeoning the Matabeleland Tuskers bowlers, led the foundation for a massive Southern Rocks victory.
This made the Zimbabwean selectors select him for the training squad for the Australia A and South Africa A tri-series. The only matter, was he did not have citizenship status, which was granted in September 2011. By then he had another remarkable performance scoring 93 off just 48 balls for Southern Rocks against Matabeleland Tuskers.
Opening the innings with the legendary West Indian Brian Lara and then getting great support from Elton Chigumbura, Raza took on the Matabeleland Tuskers's bowling attack. He then represented a Zimbabwe XI side before the Bangladeshi tour to Zimbabwe started. Zimbabwe XI won the two matches.
Raza made his ODI debut for Zimbabwe in May 2013 against Bangladesh batting at number three, thus becoming the 116th player to appear for Zimbabwe in the format.
He scored 82 off 112 balls with 6 fours and two sixes against India in his 4th ODI. He scored 60 runs on his debut against Pakistan at Harare Sports Club, in which he had a 127-run partnership for the fourth wicket that put the hosts on course for the lead. Despite scoring a half-century on his Test debut on 3 September 2013, he was dropped from the team when Zimbabwean captain Brendan Taylor returned to the team. He has also represented Zimbabwe in Cricket World Cup 2015. His world cup performance was not that great. But he impressed many by his Bowling. Raza made 100* off 84 balls against Pakistan in May 2015 at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore.
He made his T20I debut on 5 November 2013 against Bangladesh. He is also the youngest person to hit a fifty in T20I. He achieved this feat when he was just above 17 years old.
He was named stand-in captain in second T20I during India tour of Zimbabwe 2015. Before this, he captained four times for Mash Eagles in domestic cricket in 2012. He led Zimbabwe in their first win of the tour by 10 runs.
In 2014, he along with Hamilton Masakadza set the highest partnership for any wicket for Zimbabwe in One Day International cricket (224 for the first wicket). In fact, this is the highest ever opening run stand for Zimbabwe in ODIs. Also, he jointly with Tendai Chisoro set the highest record 9th wicket partnership for Zimbabwe in ODI cricket. During the second match against New Zealand in 2015 he scored his third century 100* on 95 deliveries.
The highlight of Raza's match winning ability came during Zimbabwe tour to Sri Lanka in 2017. He guided Zimbabwe to win the final ODI to seal the series 3–2, their first ever series win against Sri Lanka. It was their first away series win since 2009 and the first away series win against a Test nation since defeating Bangladesh in 2001. It was also Zimbabwe's first win in a five-match series away from home. Raza won the man of the match award for his match winning knock in the final ODI.
In the same tour, Raza scored his maiden Test century, guiding Zimbabwe to post a huge task to chase for the hosts. Despite his performances, Sri Lanka chased 389 runs and won the one-off test, by recording the highest chase in Asian soil.
During the second test against West Indies, Raza took his maiden Test five-wicket haul in the second innings. Apart from fifer, Raza also scored two fifties and became only the second Test cricketer to score 80 plus in both innings and take a five-wicket haul after Proteas Jacques Kallis. Due to his all-round performances, Zimbabwe were able to draw the match, and earned him man of the match as well. This draw, gave Zimbabweans, their first draw in 12 years, and the first time they avoided a loss since 2013 in 10 Tests.
In February 2018, the International Cricket Council (ICC) named Raza as one of the ten players to watch ahead of the 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifier tournament.