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Excited for the qualifiers, we are on a great journey: Aasif Sheikh

Last updated on 13 Jun 2023 | 01:38 PM
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Excited for the qualifiers, we are on a great journey: Aasif Sheikh

Nepal begin their World Cup Qualifiers campaign against hosts Zimbabwe on Sunday (June 18) in Harare

Nepal securing automatically progressing to the World Cup Qualifiers is nothing short of a fairytale. They needed to win almost all of the last 12 matches for a chance to make it through and in the end, they managed to win 11 of them to finish third in the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2.

Nepal wicketkeeper Aasif Sheikh believes that his country is in the middle of a great journey and the whole team is looking forward and excited for the 10-team qualifiers, starting Sunday (June 18).

“It was unbelievable to get through to the Qualifier,” Sheikh said.

“Winning 11 matches out of 12 was unexpected, to be honest. It was a team effort, everyone has contributed. I feel like we are on a great journey with our cricket and we are really excited for the qualifiers. So many of the matches we have played previously in League Two have been so close and we fought really well in those matches, so they will give us some confidence.” 

Nepal, who won 19 of their 36 matches in League 2, must contend with two-time champions West Indies and hosts Zimbabwe in Group A of the Qualifiers.

However, the Nepal team now have to get used to not playing in front of a packed capacity crowd at home. Still, Sheikh believes that the entire country will be behind them throughout the tournament even though they cannot be physically present.

“The support we got in Nepal was unbelievable, we had so many people in the crowd for the final game. We are going to miss the crowd but we know that from Nepal they are going to support us. It doesn’t matter wherever we play, we know the Nepali people are with us, they will be cheering for us from Nepal," the wicketkeeper-batter said.

“Looking at the qualifiers, we believe that if we play quality cricket, we believe that we are going to win most of the matches. It is just about playing the best cricket on the day. We believe that if we play our best cricket on that day, we are going to win.” 

Sheikh, who won the ICC Spirit of Cricket award in 2022 for not running Andy McBrine out after the Irish batter collided with the bowler and slipped, also had massive words of appreciation for head coach Monty Desai, who took over in February this year.

ALSO READ - Monty Desai: The architect behind Nepal’s resurrection

“The day he [Desai] came in as coach, we sat together,” Sheikh recalled. 

“We had a meeting and he said we are going to win 10 matches out of 12 - and then we won 11. That's the kind of belief and confidence he had in us. Before qualifying for the Asia Cup, he said we would be playing in it. He's an amazing guy, he's working hard with us and making us believe that we can win every match.”

Nepal play all four of their Group A matches at the Takashinga Sports Club, Harare. They take on hosts Zimbabwe first on June 18, followed by games against USA (June 20), West Indies (June 22) and the Netherlands (June 24). 

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