Sikandar Raza still in pain

HARARE - Zimbabwe star-player Sikandar Raza almost broke down after receiving the Man-of-the-Series award as the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier curtain finally came down at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

The all-rounder was rewarded for his 319 runs averaging 53.17 and 15 wickets during a campaign he bagged three man-of-the-match awards.

However, Raza’s heroics were in vain as Zimbabwe crashed out of the World Cup scheduled for England and Wales following a three-run defeat against minnows United Arab Emirates in Harare.

“Certainly not happy at all, I think the trophy will serve as a painful reminder of the dreams that we had and we couldn’t get it done,” an emotional Raza said at the post-tournament presentation on Sunday afternoon.

“This trophy will also serve as a reminder for the 15 million dreams that we crushed. When I started playing cricket, I thought it was to unite countries of different background coming together to play this beautiful sport. Unfortunately, you will see that’s not going to happen in next year’s World Cup, it’s certainly quite a tough pill to swallow.”

At the beginning of the tournament 10 teams took to the field on March 4 all vying for the remaining two slots for England next year and the coveted WC Qualifier trophy which was finally hoisted by Afghanistan following their seven-wicket win over West Indies.

The teams included Nepal, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, runners-up West Indies, champions Afghanistan and hosts Zimbabwe.

“This trophy will also serve as a reminder of the hard work that Peter Borren and his Dutch players, Kyle Coetzer and his Scottish players, Rohan Mustafa and his UAE players, and all the other countries that came and couldn’t make it to the World Cup,” Raza continued.

“Yes there were some good things as well- congratulations to Nepal and to have their ODI status for the first time but this trophy will also serve as a painful reminder that two of our brother countries lost their ODI status (PNG and Hong Kong) as well and I wish them the very best of luck. Not much to say to be honest...a whole lot of emotions, just a painful reminder to be honest.”

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