21 March 2018

Zimbabwe: Raza Dismissal Torches Storm

Photo: The Herald
Zimbabwe cricket all-rounder Sikandar Raza.

Former Sports Minister David Coltart has called for an investigation into the shocking decision which led to the dismissal of key Zimbabwean batsman Sikandar Raza in a high-stakes ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier which produced a run-feast at Harare Sports Club on Monday.

Coltart, an ardent cricket fan who has been playing a leading role in mobilising support for the Chevrons in their quest to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales next year, said Raza's dismissal was a shock and needed an investigation. The Zimbabwean all-rounder, who had expertly shepherded his side to victory by guiding the Chevrons tail to help the team take their score past 200 in their win over Ireland at Harare Sports Club, was dismissed in controversial fashion a ball into the 42nd over.

Zimbabwe were well set at 234/4 with 47 balls in hand and Brendan Taylor going well after having scored a century for his team against the Windies.

However, Raza, who has been one of the standout players at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers, with both bat and ball, was adjudged to have been bowled by Windies skipper Jason Holder in a defining moment of the game. Raza chased a wide delivery from Holder, which was arrowing down the leg side, and the ball came off his pads and then found contact with his off stump as he went for 22 in which he had scored two fours.

However, Holder appeared to have overstepped when he sent that delivery and television replays seemed to confirm just that with a number of angles showing there was nothing behind the line.

Raza, who had started trooping off, was told to wait for the television umpire, Adrian Holdstock of South Africa, who somehow gave the benefit of doubt to Holder in a very key moment of the game.

Zimbabweans believe Raza, who is good in scoring big towards the end of the innings, would have helped their team past the 320 mark and the Windies, who eventually won the match by four wickets with six balls remaining, would have found it difficult to chase that total.

A victory would have powered the Chevrons into the World Cup with a game to spare but, as it turned out, their chances for an onslaught in the final overs was derailed and they scored only 55 runs from their final 47 balls.

Coltart said the ICC needed a review of the way such crucial matches, where a place at the World Cup would be at stake, and decisions by the officials interrogated.

Michael Gough of England and Simon Fry of Australia where the on-field umpires while Paul Wilson, another Aussie, was the reserve umpire. "The #ICC needs to review the shocking lapse yesterday (on Monday) by the third umpire regarding Raza's dismissal," Coltart said on Twitter.

"By all accounts, including neutrals, this was a poor decision which needs to be investigated. It had a major impact on the game, especially given so much rests on these matches." And there was a chorus of approval to Coltart's argument. "Imagine the impact Raza would have made in those last overs," someone who goes by the Twitter handle @welliemach said. Praise Dumi Dlakama asked, "why do wrong decisions always go against us?" while Emmanuel Mberi said, "it's always against us, remember the game against Ireland in 2015?

"They seem to have an agenda against Zim. Perhaps it's something beyond sport . . . politics." Danai Ellen Mukwe said, "I strongly agree it was a clear no ball."

ESPNCricinfo's live coverage of the match also questioned the dismissal.

"Raza, OUT, the captain's done the trick, or has he? Off the pad and onto the stumps. Big, big scalp," the website said.

"This is clever bowling, sees the batsman looking to make room and followed him by angling this full down leg, Raza cramped for room as he looked to work this to the leg side, as the ball deflects off the pad onto the stumps. 'Raza was halfway down towards the dressing room when he was called back. That's because Holder has overstepped. Oh, dear. But that's been deemed legitimate. Big moment either way. The third umpire took a number of looks at that and deemed that a legal delivery. Harsh call, perhaps.

"There was nothing behind the line. Streak called it a no-ball from the dressing room, but was shocked at the eventual decision like many others."

Coltart said despite the setback against the Windies, the Chevrons needed to retain their focus and called for the fans to continue supporting them.

"We need to encourage @GraemeCremer and his lads. Today's performance was key in keeping the 2nd best run rate which could still determine who qualifies if it rains," said Coltart.

"Also, Zimbabwe's performance has sent a powerful message to the world that we have a team capable of beating anyone.

"@BrendanTaylor86 and @SRazaB24 have been the standout batsmen of the Qualifiers and I look forward to seeing them perform next year in the World Cup."

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