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Crunch Time

Sikandar Raza: 'I drink coffee in Europe and tea in Asia'

The allrounder talks about his favourite Scottish drink, and the Pakistani food he'd like his Zimbabwe team-mates to try

Sikandar Raza sips a drink during a training session in Galle, Colombo, June 28, 2017

"No sort of fast food is okay to eat as a professional sportsperson, but that's just me. I have made a commitment to myself and I am sticking with that"  •  Ishara S Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

What's your favourite meal?
My favourite meal when I am home has to be an African braai. We love to do a braai in the house, and Zimbabwean beef is very tasty, so a beef steak is my favourite meal.
What meal do you eat most often during the course of a week?
Everything about my food has changed after the two surgeries in two months [to remove a tumour], with the medicines and injections. I think I am usually a very disciplined eater, so I'd be eating grilled food, and most of the time I like to have brown rice and chana dal.
Which cricket venue has the best food?
Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore has the best food. I remember every Zimbabwean player found the food to be very nice back when we went in 2015. We had rice, naan and chapatis, mutton, chicken and beef dishes. There was fresh watermelon and orange juice. There was pasta too. It was a massive selection, so I'm sure I'm forgetting some of it.
How do dressing-room meals vary between Tests and T20s?
There isn't the same variety in a T20 menu as there is in a Test match, and rightly so. It is a 15-minute turnover anyway. Guys shouldn't be focusing on eating in that little time.
What is your favourite snack before or after a workout?
Fruits. [Now] because of the injury, I think I have to add protein shakes as well.
When did you implement a structured diet in your lifestyle?
About four years ago. I have a team behind the scenes - my own nutritionist, and a guy who does my body readings, like how much muscle and fat is there. I get in touch with him after I'm back from a tour.
Is there something you really love to eat but have removed from your diet as part of a fitness regimen?
There are a lot of things that I'd love to eat but I haven't had in a long time. I used to love white rice. I haven't had it in five years. Curries, french fries, a good burger. Soft drinks, at times. I remember pizza being an on-the-go kind of food for me when I was a student.
Now I try to stay away from all oily foods. I try to take the masala route instead of the curry route.
Are you a big coffee drinker?
I am a very, very big coffee drinker, but only when I'm in Europe. When I'm in Asia, I'm a big tea drinker. I'm a fan of desi tea.
What was the food like when you studied at the Pakistan Air Force school?
There was a set menu for all the students and we knew what day we would get the nice food. Regardless of what food came our way, though, we had to eat it. We weren't fussy about it, because of our training.
How different are your meals when playing for Zimbabwe and when playing in franchise tournaments?
It is not very different. There's always so much variety in the food served by a franchise league that there's something that suits your diet. They also ask about dietary requirements, so you can let them know in advance if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, or you eat halal food all the way through. The leagues make sure your food comes separately and is exactly what you wanted.
Is there a Pakistani specialty you'd like to introduce to your Zimbabwe team-mates?
I would love Zimbabweans to know what golgappe or fruit chaat or dahi bhalle really are. They need to eat these types of food.
You went to university in Scotland. Is there any Scottish food that you miss?
Scottish food wasn't halal, so I don't miss any of their delicacies. However, I do miss a cold can of Irn-Bru [a carbonated soft drink].
What's your favourite city to eat out in?
Dubai, Melbourne and Lahore. We also enjoyed going out in Sri Lanka. The food is just lovely in these places.
What sort of fast food is okay to eat as a professional sportsperson?
No sort of fast food - but that's just me. I have made a commitment to myself and I am sticking with that.
Who is the most fun team-mate to share a meal with?
Timycen Maruma and Imran Tahir. It's the conversations, drama, stories, acting humour, jokes and the mimicry - there's too much to tell you.
If you could reward yourself with a cheat meal after a century or a five-for, what would it be?
I would reward myself with a cold can of Irn-Bru with a buttered fried fish with chips from one of those corner shops we used to call chippies in Glasgow. That would do.
Who is the best cook among the cricketers you know?
I never played age-group cricket, where players shared a flat and you cook for yourself. But I spent a large portion of my life in hostels, so I am a half-decent cook. My signature dish is chicken karhai and chicken achari.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84