Nepal registered a fighting win against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday to level the three-match one-day series. Aarif Sheikh had to bat in a tense situation, and he delivered, as always.
In a must-win clash, Nepal were six down for 106, requiring 86 more runs from 20.5 overs after the dismissal of Kushal Bhurtel. Aarif then had a massive task to take his side home. His 62 runs partnership with Gulshan Jha for the seventh wicket and 25 runs stand with Sompal Kami for the eighth wicket was enough to win the match for the home side.
After Sompal’s winning boundary, Aarif showed his bat towards the dressing room and gestured, ‘Bat does the talk’. Sources have said that Aasif Sheikh (Aarif’s younger brother) argued with coach Manoj Prabhakar during the Kenya tour. And Aarif was also unsatisfied about that incident. Resulting the same incident, Aasif missed a couple of matches against Kenya. Also, Aarif was excluded from playing XI in Sunday’s first match against UAE.
Aarif finished as the fourth-highest run-getter in the recently concluded PM Cup National One Day series with a healthy average of 78.33. Police’s middle order batter piled up 235 runs from just four innings with a top score of 91* runs against Tribhuwan Army.
Aarif seemed unhappy with the decision (dropping him from the XI), but he replied cheekily, saying, “It was management’s decision, and I was waiting for my chance”.
Here’s how Aarif Sheikh responded to Medias in a post-match talk:
Q. We’ve seen you bat in these ( tensed ) situations. You’ve won many matches as well but was this match bit different?
A. Yes, obviously different. There was a change in my batting position, But the role was the same. I believed one partnership could swing the momentum towards us, which happened between Gulshan and me.
Q. You were seen showing some gestures with the bat after the win. Was it any message?
A. It was, like, a message to myself. I always talk with my bat.
Q. You are continuously performing in domestic too. Were you sad after being excluded from the first match?
A. No, not sad. There’s a combination between Captain, Coach and Management. I was waiting for my chance.
Q. Was there any pressure on you to prove yourself and fix your spot in the team?
A. I think I’ve been playing Cricket for 6-7 years, and till I play, It is to prove myself every single day. So no pressure at all.
Q. Nepal were 106/6 when Gulshan arrived. What were you saying to him?
A. Just one partnership. I knew we could turn this around with one partnership. I talked about it with Bhurtel. But it was me and Gulshan who shared 60-65 odd runs, which was vital. We planned to play the merit of the balls and play with a straight bat.
Q. You are batting comfortably. Why do you think the batters ahead of you are struggling?
A. It may be a bad day. A couple of wickets were poor. But the wicket was not that tough.
Q. You have been batting in these situations (tensed after a collapse) for a long. Don’t you feel burdened about it?
A. Team has given me that role, and I’ve been working in the same role.
Q. You have also contributed with the bowl in the domestic and the national teams. Are you more into batting, or is it because of a lack of opportunity?
A. Wherever team management gives me a chance, either in batting or Bowling or in fielding, I will give my 100%.
Feature Image – Ekantipur