Asif Khan
Asif Khan acknowledges the cheers after reaching his half-century against PNG on Tuesday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Asif Khan feels relieved after scoring an unbeaten 81 to end his lacklustre run in the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 match against Papua New Guinea at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday and is looking forward to getting back to his high-scoring ways for the UAE.

The 32-year-old all-rounder, a prolific scorer in the UAE domestic league, scored his maiden half-century to guide the hosts to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over PNG, chasing a target of 177, and move up to second in the points table, behind Oman. Young Vriitya Aravind 40 and Chundangapoyil Rizwan 26 not out were the other performers.

“Yes, I was under pressure. There is a difference between domestic and international levels. I played positive in the first three games and in the fourth game, I didn’t get the chance to bat. Today, when I went in, I forgot about all other things and remembered my best innings, 125 against Vision Shipping in the CBFS powered Fancode Twenty20 tournament in January. That helped,” said Asif, who has also represented Pakistan A before completing his qualification for the UAE.

Asif has been the player of the tournament in all three formats, Emirates D50, Emirates D10 and also the Sharjah T20.

Familiarity of venue

“Once I didn’t get runs all my family and friends started asking me what happened. That put more pressure on me, though they ask me due to their love for me. Now I will be more at ease,” he added.

The venue also played a big role in easing his nerves as he the Sharjah Stadium has been his home for many years now. “I have played more than 200 games at the venue. The familiarity of the ground helped me a lot,” said the talented batter, popularly known as Lala, who promised more runs in the near future.

Electing to bat, PNG were pegged back by off-spinners Basil Hameed, who claimed four for 19, and skipper Ahmed Raza (2/45). Skipper Asad Vala remained the top-scorer of PNG with 46 off 72 balls.

Talking about the pressure on Asif Khan, skipper Ahmed Raza said: “No one in this group is under any pressure. We try not to create an environment that makes the newcomers uncomfortable. As individuals you wanted to perform and you wanted to do well in the first debut series and that must be the case with Asif.