After being snubbed for the 17th Asian Games, the selection committee of the Cricket Association of Nepal has considered talented youngster Aarif Sheikh in the preliminary 24-member squad for the all-important ICC World Cricket League Division-III slated for October 26 to November 2 in Uganda.
Aarif has been listed among the best young talent for Nepali cricket who has already proven himself out of the two matches he played with the senior side in May’s ACC Premier League. He had made into the national fold after giving a man-of-the-series performance in the senior National One-Day Cricket Tournament. Aarif was also a top performer for Nepal in the ACC U-19 Asia Cup that was ended in January in the UAE.
The selectors faced heavy criticism when Aarif was not even considered for the preliminary squad for the Asian Games beginning from September 19 to October 4 in Incheon, South Korea. With the national team already packed with performers from the ICC World Twenty20, Aarif seemed to have been outnumbered by the pool of players in the shorter version of the game.
However, he has now got himself a chance to prove his mettle in the 50-over format albeit he wins the battle against some of the established names. National team skipper Paras Khadka was surprised by the exclusion of Aarif from the preliminary squad for the Asiad saying: “He could have come to the preliminary 19 and then broke into the final squad.”
Aarif’s biggest challenge will be to prove what the national team skipper has believed about the rising all-rounder. Out of the 23 settled names, Aarif is in the need to outshine seven names in the run up to the Division-III. Paras had said: “This is still not the end of the World for Aarif. There is a lot of tournament coming on (after Asian Games) beginning with Division-III.”
Aarif is among the few lucky cricketers of the country to enjoy debut at a young age and the Division-III tournament in Uganda could just be the beginning of another world for him.
Preliminary squad for Division-III
Paras Khadka (capt)
Gyanendra Malla (vice-captain)
Ram Naresh Giri