Asif Khan feature 2-1680815150265
Asif Khan is enjoying his new role for the UAE national team.

Dubai: Asif Khan, a run-machine in UAE’s domestic league, could not replicate his success in the international arena and lost his opening spot after making his debut, but the attacking batter has made his second innings count and has cemented his place with stunning scores during UAE’s entry into the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in the last one month.

The opener has dropped down the order and that proved a masterstroke for the powerhitter Asif, who has scores of 82, 96, 103, 101 not out and 82 among his last 10 innings. His unbeaten 101 against Nepal came in 42 balls and is the fourth fastest century in One Day Internationals.

Asif Khan’s knocks invariably prove the decisive factor in UAE’s winning margins. His performances come at difficult circumstances when their rivals are strengthening their hold on the match and he forcibly wrests the advantage back. Talking about his knocks, Asif feels happy to have lived up to the team’s expectations.

New role

“Yes, I was an opener before, but the team management has given me a new role to play at No 5 or 6, so that I could stay till end of the 50 overs. It was always at the back of my mind that if I stay for 10 to 15 overs, I could do some powerhitting. In Nepal, I was able to achieve that and score a quick-fire century. It’s always a dream to play for the country and I get a nice feeling that I am able to do something for the country. I am happy with this wonderful opportunity that allowed me to put my name in the record books,” the Pakistan-born Asif Khan told Gulf News after his knock against Jersey took UAE to second qualifying spot in the World Cup Qualifier Playoffs at Windhoek in Namibia.

Asif believes in doing two things — staying fit and attack the bowling. It’s a formula that has given him tremendous success in the domestic circuit across all formats. The feared opener had to patiently wait for completing his qualification period before making his debut against Oman in Dubai last year. Asif’s turnaround came almost a year later when he scored 82 as an opener against Nepal at Dubai International Stadium this March.

“If you are 100 per cent fit, then you will be able to perform very well,” said Asif Khan, who had played first-class cricket in Pakistan along with the likes of Kamran Akmal, Misbah Ul Haq, Imran Farhat and Wahab Riaz. “It doesn’t matter which format I am playing in, I would like to go on the attack.”

UAE captain Mohammad Waseem is absolutely delighted with the team’s qualification to the next stage of the tournament where they could face the likes of Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands and the West Indies in the 10-team league in Zimbabwe in June and July this year.

“Heading into the tournament in Namibia, we had a clear objective of delivering our best and playing positive and fearless cricket. I want to thank the players and our entire support staff for their untiring efforts that have resulted in our success.

“Our batters have been exceptional for us recently and the bowlers and fielders have backed them up really well. The entire team needs to perform at the same level and display the same commitment and passion for us to excel in Zimbabwe,” Waseem, one of the pillar’s of UAE batting with his big-match temperament, was quoted in an ICC release.

Gloval event

To reach the pinnacle global event of One-Day International cricket, USA and UAE will be vying with eight other teams in Zimbabwe for two places. These will include the three automatic qualifiers from ICC CWC League 2 — Scotland, Oman and Nepal — in addition to the bottom five-placed teams in the ICC ODI Super League.

Currently, Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and the West Indies are confirmed to feature at the Qualifier in Zimbabwe, while Ireland must beat Bangladesh 3-0 in their upcoming Super League series to leapfrog South Africa and gain direct entry to the World Cup.

The Qualifier will be the culmination of four years of hard-fought competition where 32 teams started out in search of a place in the showpiece.