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The masterly batting duo that flayed Shakti’s disciplined attack

Jun 06, 2018 | Parbati Lama |

Dipendra Singh Airee and Aarif Sheikh made the point on why they have now cemented spots in the national team as the two Nepal Police Club (NPC) middle order batsmen completed a clinical chase against Province 5 in the Prime Minister Cup One Day National cricket tournament on Wednesday.

In their last Group ‘B’ game of the tournament where a victory would send them into the semi-finals as pool winners, NPC were placed at 97-3 in 27.2 overs in chase of 200 against Province 5 whose bowling attack led by national team veteran Shakti Gauchan had all chances to pull off an upset in the tournament.

But Dipendra and Aarif underlined the fact that they now belong to an elite group of domestic cricketers itching to prove themselves by bailing out their team from trouble every time they step into the crease. A slow start from the top order that initially looked like putting pressure on the middle order didn’t matter as NPC replied with 201-3 with 36 balls to spare.

Dipendra had come into the match after failing to make it big against Province 3 in Tuesday’s match that was reduced to 20 overs due to wet outfield at the Mulpani Cricket Ground. And Aarif was taking to the crease following a well-constructed 54-ball 66 in a man-of-the-match performance that gave NPC a six-wicket victory.

And on Wednesday, the platform was already laid for Dipendra to make up for his overnight failure and for Aarif, it was just about keep getting better. The mission was accomplished.

The U-19 national team coach Binod Das takes Dipendra as a batsman who can middle the ball from the time he steps inside the pitch and the batsman did it scoring eight runs from the first nine balls he faced. The first big hit for him came against leg spinner Bikram Bhushal who was launched over the long on to clear the intent.

Aarif, on the other hand, has always chosen to stick to the crease with his customary defence and nudging for singles and doubles. He was batting on 11 from 26 balls before coming up with his first big shot, Bikram once again at the receiving end as the leggie was smashed over deep extra cover for a maximum.

The NPC squad, even the Province 5 bowlers and also the countable crowd at the TU grounds, knew how the two batsmen were going to negotiate with the target. Punishing the balls at their zones and nudging for singles and doubles, Dipendra and Aarif flayed the Province 5 bowlers putting display a seer brilliance of class batting that would please everyone around.

Dipendra got into his first half century of the tournament scoring 58 from 53 balls with three sixes and two fours. Aarif, whose two of his three sixes came in the game sealing 44th over bowled by Sandeep Sunar, continued his sublime form in the tournament with an unbeaten 45 from 51 balls.

Aarif specially has looked ominous throughout the tournament, with the scores of 57, 66 and 45 in the three matches NPC played in the league stage and his performance will once again be key when NPC meet Nepal Armed Police Force Club in the semi-finals.

And Dipendra will get another opportunity to go hand-in-hand with his national squad teammate. Looking at the way the two batsmen are going, the national team camp itself will have no headache to decide what their middle order would look like when Nepal make their One Day International debut against Netherlands this August.


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