Sikanda Raza who scored his maiden Test hundred to lift Zimbabwe to a commanding position after Sri Lanka reduced them for 23 for 4 at one stage, credited their batting coach Lance Klusener for the batting revival.
A brilliant middle-order batting effort saw Zimbabwe putting on 377 in their second essay, leaving Sri Lanka with a huge target of 388 to win. At stumps Sri Lanka were 177 for 3, still needing 211 to win.
“Yes, the heads were down for a little while during that lunch break when we were 23 for 4. Lance Klusener had a word with us and said that it’s up to us – the guys who were still to bat – whether we go down without a fight, or we show some heart,” Raza told reporters. “The plans come from us. We discuss and share our plans with Klusener and then he has his input. Of course he has a world of experience. If I have a plan which I think is too risky, Klusener will always advise me and say you could have a better plan – do XYZ. It’s quite a nice relationship all the batters have got with our batting coach.
Zimbabwe have been exceptional during the tour. They beat Sri Lanka 3-2 in the ODI series, their first-ever series win against the hosts and are now on the verge of creating history. All that they need now is to take seven wickets on the final day of the match to clinch their first-ever Test match win against the Islanders.
“If you look at the Sri Lanka tour, everyone has scored runs. In the ODI series we started with Solomon Mire, then Hamilton Masakadza. Then we had Tarisai Musakanda, who is a young guy who got into a team, batted in a difficult place, and did exceptionally. Craig Ervine, has been performing. Sean Williams had been performing. All the guys heading into the Test had runs behind them. Everyone has a different plan. Everyone has their own plan. All our plans worked around being positive. Some were around being aggressive. My plan was certainly like that,” he explained.
“I personally think that Zimbabwe cricket is going forward. We’ve been playing some decent cricket. Sometimes results don’t go your way. In my opinion, as long as you’re doing the right thing, working hard, and being positive, results will fall into place. This one could go either way. But having said, we’re all proud of how we have played, how we have represented our country. We’ll give it another fight tomorrow, and try and win the Test match.
Raza also admitted that since Heath Streak took over as head coach and Tatenda Taibu as chief selectors, they have been very consistent with their selections.
“I think since Streak has become head coach and Tatenda Taibu has been chief selector, we have kept the same group of players. So, certainly, it has been about six months that we’ve been together – this core of players. We haven’t had a lot of changes in our touring 15 or playing XI either. Every time someone has got a chance in the playing XI, they’ve stepped up as well. The good thing is even the boys on the bench have proven their strength. They’ve taken their opportunities when presented. Since these two gentlemen have taken over, we’ve had a very consistent squad, and I think that goes hand in hand with consistent performances as well,” he added.