Raza in form after bone marrow surgery

Zimbabwe's Sikandar Raza

ZIMBABWE’S Sikandar Raza (pictured)had a major health scare last year and could have easily missed out on the T20 World Cup.

Tests discovered that Raza had a bone marrow infection which was suspected to be cancerous and he underwent surgery to remove a tumour.

"There were a lot of terms that I didn't understand, but the initial diagnosis was a potentially cancerous tumour in my bone marrow," Raza recently told ZTN Prime.

"It was tough. I was struggling to break it down to my family and they grew anxious. [One day] my mum knew that something big was happening, she could see  it in my face and she said 'tell me what is happening'."

After surgery, Raza was later cleared of illness and is now in the form of his life, winning the International Cricket Council's player of the month award in August following his two unbeaten tons in Zimbabwe's first series win against Bangladesh.

Hopes are that Raza, who is also making useful contributions with his bowling, can help to take the Chevrons — whose nickname comes from the pattern of the brickwork of the Great Zimbabwe monument in Masvingo province — some way in the tournament.

"Health-wise, Raza had a couple of operations and wasn't sure he'd ever get back and play cricket," Zimbabwe coach Houghton added.

"To have him playing as well as he has over the last three months is absolutely fantastic. He's been a real leading star for us.

"It's always good when your senior players have got good form because they are the ones that the youngsters look for [to give them] courage themselves to play."

All-rounder Wesley Madhevere is an emerging talent for the Chevrons who is set to appear at his first senior World Cup

Captain Craig Ervine is also back from injury, and Zimbabwe are in Australia with a full-strength squad, with the only setback in their preparations being the departure of batting coach Lance Klusener.

The former South Africa all-rounder stood down on the day of the team's departure for Australia to "pursue professional engagements around the globe".

This came soon after the addition of Steve Kirby, an Englishman who has previously worked alongside Houghton at Derbyshire, as Zimbabwe's new bowling coach.

"I keep it simple, I never tell the lads what to do, it's about building relationships with the players, and that we work hard for each other," Kirby said.

The squad has a very promising youngster in 22-year-old all-rounder Wesley Madhevere, who has played for Zimbabwe at three editions of the Under-19 World Cup, and is seen as a future mainstay of the team.

While always capable of causing an upset, the key to Zimbabwe having a good tournament will be to build some consistency, having exited in the first round in all five previous appearances so far.

And if they adopt the right approach, says Kirby, then the Zimbabweans can go further than expected.gressive cricket. — BBC.




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