Sikandar Raza, the Zimbabwe batsman, has said that the side's two-wicket win in the first ODI against Ireland has given belief to the players, and will assist them in overcoming tough situations in the future. Zimbabwe had been reduced to 171 for 7 chasing 220, but Raza made an unbeaten 60 to guide them home with an over remaining, a result he said showed the "mental toughness" of the young side.
"Sometimes when you are out of form as a batter, sometimes what you need is a scratchy, ugly-looking innings to get yourself some runs and get your confidence going. What we needed was this win, maybe an ugly-looking win but what it does is it brings the team a lot closer and helps with the belief and the faith that we have in one another and ourselves," Raza said.
"This win will play a lot (bigger) role than what you see. You see that we have gone one-up against Ireland. But what I see is that it has given enough belief to the squad and we have got ourselves together. This will work in mysterious ways, especially in the change room. We will perform better when we find ourselves in difficult situations."
The win was only Zimbabwe's fourth in 18 completed ODIs this year, to go with a solitary victory in seven T20Is. The selectors have dropped a few underperforming senior players, and Raza saw the Ireland win as a reflection of the potential the relatively inexperienced side has.
"Because we were losing, there were a lot of fingers raised and questions asked and rightly so to be fair. As I said sometimes you need an ugly, scratchy win and that showed our mental toughness, especially the youngsters. We have got quite a young side. Apart from Elton (Chigumbura) I do not think there is anyone close to a 100 (ODIs). If you take away the other two guys - Chamu (Chibhabha) and Sean Williams - the rest of us are just maybe 5-10-20-30 (games). That is a good sign that we are mentally strong enough but we have to play our roles a bit better and if we can do that we will win more games in the future."
Raza was pleased to have been successful in steering his team to victory, something he said he had failed to do before. "Yes, it was nervous. I found myself for the first time finishing a game. That is taking confidence for the next game. I have found myself previously as well (in such situations) but I have never been able to win the game for the team. So today before I walked on to the park I said a few things to myself and I made sure that I stayed true to what I said to myself, and luckily it ended up working.
"One of the reasons for my downfall could have been that I have gone aerial a lot earlier in my innings. Today I was just hitting the ball on the ground for as long as possible, and take the aerial shot once you really have to."
Raza's 38-run eighth-wicket partnership with Wellington Masakadza was crucial in the chase and the batsman was full of praise for the debutant left-arm spinner, who was eventually run out for 10. "I told him, 'sorry mate,' because he called and I did not know where the ball was. He was batting beautifully. I mean the guy is on debut and has bowled well, has fielded his heart out. The last thing you need is for him to get out, and god forbid if we lose the game then a debutant is not in a good place.
"He has got a bright future ahead. His ten overs went for between 30 to 40 (45) which is still good on that track and he came on to bowl at a crucal time as well. Most importantly to me his attitude stands out. He is a very humble guy, plenty of energy in the field. He adds quite a lot to the team and with the bat you have all seen he can hold his own especially under pressure, so that speaks volumes about his character."