The applause Aarif Sheikh received on Wednesday while entering the TU grounds with the bat was not an everyday scene. His Nepal Police Club side was in dire straits, reduced to 157-8 in a 204-run chase against Nepal APF Club in the Prime Minister Cup semi-final and the hard-hitting Rashid Khan was just dismissed. The stakes were high and Aarif couldn’t even walk.
Aarif had just returned from a nearby hospital in an ambulance after he was stretchered off during the first innings while he landed awkwardly. Although the initial X-Ray didn’t show any problem but the swelling was enough to leave him in excruciating pain. His expressions had already made it clear.
The supporters at the Chobhar End cheered for him when he stepped on to the field and the man who couldn’t even walk properly tried hard defending the first few balls. He connected Kamal Singh Airee properly to hit the seamer for six straight down the ground and stroked two boundaries against another death over specialist Abinash Bohora in the 49th over.
After falling to the same bowler, the APF players gathered to console Aarif and NPC were no more tha champions. The social media handlers have lauded Aarif for his valiant effort.
But was Aarif’s decision to bat under such circumstance really a brave decision?
According to the club management, Aarif himself decided to go and bat despite the captain and team manager asking him to refrain from it. “We told him several times to not go. This single match was not the end. We would get another chance but he insisted, NPC manager Chitra Bista told cricketingnepal.com.
“It’s a game where we have given freedom to our players and policing is naturally not the thing we do. We have recently seen how Indian players defied their pain to save a Test match against Australia. We thought he was in a similar state of mind and couldn’t stop him, he added.
APF skipper Sharad Vesawkar, under whom Aarif played several domestic tournaments and won trophies, interpreted his decision in two aspects. “He has a lengthy career ahead of him and if this injury aggravates, its not going to help. We have a crucial series in March (ICC World Cup League 2 Series in Oman) and he is an important member. He needed to focus there, said Vesawkar.
“On the other side, the effort he put in for his side under such circumstance was quite appreciating,” he added.
Aarif said he was not in the state of mind to think about the pain. “Rashid was batting well and I was preparing myself to give him the strike if another wicket falls in. Unfortunately, Rashid was out and I had already prepared myself for it,” Aarif said although he was well aware of how serious his injury could be.
Aarif doesn’t know whether he has tore his ligament or not because the initial X-Ray wouldn’t show it. He requires an MRI to learn about it. Abinash is well know for his yorkers which he applies during the death overs.
What if one of Abinash’s yorkers crushed the same ankle he twisted? Wasn’t that a career threatening risk?