After producing a scintillating knock against Bangladesh U-19 in the third practice match of Neplai U-19 team’s preparation tour, opener Aasif Sheikh has leased a new life in the team’s batting for the ACC U-19 Asia Cup.
Aasif had gone through a poor run of form failing to produce big scores in the ACC U-19 Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, World Cup Qualifiers in Singapore and ACC U-19 Eastern Region tournament in Thailand. In the only match he played in the ACC Emerging Teams Cup, Aasif was out for eight runs against Hong Kong.
Touted to be the new face as Nepali opener, Aasif’s only half century during those tournaments was in the Eastern Region Tournament.
At a time when coach Binod Das was asking for more from his openers, Aasif had failed to deliver but following his 88-ball 90 against Bangladesh, Nepal have heaved a sigh of relief as the team prepares for to tackle Test giants India and Bangladesh along with hosts Malaysia.
“He is one of the best talents that we have and is currently batting in a different league,” said Das ahead of the team’s departure to Malaysia.
Das believes the presence of Monty Desai as batting consultant has helped a lot in taking out performance from Aasif. “Yes his (Desai) presence has helped the entire batting department. Regarding Aasif, we are looking for the ways to bring the best out of him,” the former national and u-19 team skipper added.
“He has got the shots and ability to play freely but we don’t want him to be in doubt. We can give him the license to perform. And we are thankful that its working in the right direction.”
Aasif had forged a 139-run opening wicket partnership with Jitendra Singh Thakuri in the six-wicket victory over Bangladesh and the stand has rejuvenated the Nepali team which has been looking for a good start for a long time but hadn’t got one.
With his openers giving a good sign for the Asia Cup, Das will now be looking for his middle order to continue getting maturity. “The middle order has been in good touch and its all about making their thought process very right. Monty has worked really hard to get the best of our batsmen and hopefully they will deliver,” Das added.
Anil Sah has been a regular No 3 in Nepali U-19 team since the Eastern Region tournament and he will be followed by skipper Dipendra Sing Airee, Rohit Kumar Paudel, Bhim Sharki and Pranit Thapa Magar who has been given the role of a finisher to look after the last 10 to 15 overs.
Following the arrival of Jitendra who looks like playing role of a calm ally for a free flowing Aasif, Nepal’s opening headache looks partially solved. Nepal’s tour of Bangladesh provided a perfect opportunity for the team to mend themselves against a quality opponent and now their mettle will be tested.