Sikandar Raza has lauded the impact head coach Dave Houghton and batting consultant Lance “Zulu” Klusener have had on the Zimbabwe team over the past few weeks, suggesting their experience and complimentary coaching styles have made them an ideal combination to take the side forward.
Houghton took charge early this month from Indian mentor Lalchand Rajput and tasted immediate success, overseeing Zimbabwe’s qualification for the ICC T20 World Cup with five successive victories in the qualifiers held in Bulawayo recently.
The rejuvenated Zimbabwe side registered their sixth successive win in Twenty20 Internationals after beating Bangladesh by 17 runs at Harare Sports Club on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
After yet again starring with both bat and ball, Raza was full of praise for Houghton and batting coach Klusener, pointing to their coaching methods and experience as the major contributing factor to the team’s rejuvenation.
“We have certainly turned the corner in mentality and in our approach to the game,” Raza said during the post-match Press conference.
“Dave Houghton has brought those keys that are going to unlock some of our abilities that were hidden away from us for a long time.”
The veteran allrounder Klusener, who returned for a second stint as batting coach in March had brought a positive mindset to the team’s batting, a department which had been their biggest undoing in the recent past.
“If you remember when Zulu (Klusener) was with us, the team was batting very well,” Raza said.
“Zulu has come back and he has brought back that same mentality, and he has brought even more experience because he has been doing a lot of globe-trotting in different cricket leagues.
“He has brought a lot of knowledge and experience to the team,” said Raza.
Following up on his blistering from during the T20 World Cup qualifiers Raza proved to be the difference again after smashing a 24-ball 50 on his way to an unbeaten 65 off 26 balls which included four sixes and seven fours.
Together with a young Wesley Madhevere, who top scored with 76 runs from 46 balls, the pair shared a 91-run, fourth-wicket partnership that helped to a challenging 205-3 in their 20 overs.
Raza was named the Player of the Match after going on to take a wicket as Bangladesh were restricted to 188 for six with Luke Jongwe the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers with two wickets for 34 runs.
He is confident Zimbabwe will continue with their winning form.
“The good thing is that we have started well, and we have a game tomorrow (today), so we have to put this win behind us,” Raza said.
“We have to turn up with the right attitude and mentality,” said Raza.
The two teams will meet at the same venue on Sunday for the second T20, before wrapping up the series on Tuesday.