UAE left-arm spinner Ayaan Khan turned in a dream spell to restrict Nepal in the first ODI. Image Credit: Courtesy: ECB

Dubai: Teenager Ayaan Afzal Khan enjoyed a dream debut with a four-wicket haul in the first One Day International (ODI) against Nepal at the Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground in Kathmandu on Monday. The left-arm spinner produced a masterly spell to claim four for 14 in his 10 overs to halt hosts Nepal’s chase in the first of the three-match series.

“It is a dream achievement for me to get four wickets in my ODI debut against Nepal. Adding to that I also scored runs which makes it wonderful,” Ayaan told Gulf News from Kathmandu.

Strength to strength

Chasing a target of 264, Ayaan ensured that Nepal never really got off to a chase by claiming three wickets in a two-over spell, after coming in to bowl as early as the sixth over. His wicket also included Nepal captain Rohit Paudel. From 41 for four, the hosts found the going tough and finished at 179/9, losing by 84 runs.

Ayaan, who made his debut in the two-match series against Bangladesh at home in October, has been growing from strength to strength ever since and has been troubling even the best with his tight line and length and the subtle variations.

Talking about his spell against Nepal, the 16-year-old said he had the backing of the coach Robin Singh and skipper CP Rizwan, which made him feel at ease.

“When I made my Twenty20 debut, I was bit a nervous, but in 50 overs I am extremely confident because my coach and my captain have backed me a lot. So I am not under any pressure,” he added.

Dream wicket

Ayaan is one of the many home-grown talents who have played for the UAE senior ranks after coming through the junior grade. The left-arm spinner, who has a very strong heart, made a memorable T20 debut when he bravely took on the strong Bangladesh batters. The 16-year-old bagged the wicket of Litton Das, who pulverised the Indian bowling in the recent World Cup, in his first over.

Ayaan feels playing in the World Cup in Australia also enabled him to handle pressure better. “Playing in Australia under a lot pressure, in front of so many people, made a big effect and made me more confident,” he said. “Now, I am able to bowl in one spot. In Twenty20, we have to change the areas we bowl to keep the batters guessing, but in 50 overs to keep it simple, bowl on the stumps. That’s the big change.”

Put in to bat, UAE scored 263 for seven in 50 overs with all-rounder Rohan Mustafa the top-scorer, while useful contributions came from Mohammad Waseem and Vriitya Aravind with Ayaan chipping with a cameo of 26 along with Ahmed Raza.