Asia Cup 2018
Indian selectors have been roping in some fresh looks in the side. Recently, the selectors got in young guns Prithvi Shaw and Hanuma Vihari for the remaining two Test matches of the 5-match series against England.
And now we have another debutant, Khaleel Ahmed, making his way into the ODI squad. It’s a new wave of positivity, this.
With time, will we get accustomed to a youthful Indian team?
On Saturday, the BCCI announced a 16-member Indian squad for the Asia Cup 2018, starting mid-September.
India’s regular skipper Virat Kohli has been rested keeping the workload in mind and in his absence, opening batsman Rohit Sharma will lead the Men in Blue. Under Rohit’s stewardship, India had earlier won the Nidahas Trophy in March, held in Sri Lanka.
Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav come back to the set-up while Suresh Raina has been dropped. The surprise exclusion was that of Umesh Yadav and in the pace bowling department, there is a new entrant in the form of Khaleel Ahmed.
Khaleel will rub shoulders with the experienced Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar besides Shardul Thakur. It will be a promising affair for the pacer, who is set to learn the trades at this young age.
We look at Khaleel and his entry into the Indian team.
Khaleel Ahmed is a young promising pace bowler from Rajasthan
He has grown through the Rajasthan junior cricket set-up representing the state in U-16 and U-19 tournaments. Khaleel has also featured in India U-19 squad besides being a part of India A.
In 17 List A matches, Khaleel has 28 wickets with a best of 4/35. He averages a decent 22.50 with the ball. In two first-class games, the 20-year-old rookie has two wickets to his name.
The youngster has also been part of 12 T20 matches and has picked 17 scalps with a top performance of 4/12.
He comes in as the fourth pacer of the Indian side.
Khaleel has been putting in the shifts
It is interesting to see Indian youth set-up filled with potent pace bowlers who can ball fast. It’s an art and in a country like India where batting is given more importance, the rise of these young pacers is a promising chapter. Khaleel recently represented India A in the Quadrangular trophy.
He picked up 7 wickets in four matches, which included a best of 3/45. He also played five List-A matches for India A in England and impressed with eight wickets.
Khaleel in a bracket of rising fast bowlers
He has also been a part of Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League and was mentored by Khan. The talented rookie was bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2018 edition of the cash-rich league.
Khaleel gained prominence in the 2016 edition of the ICC U-19 World Cup. Against Pakistan in a warm-up game, he picked 5/30 to hand his side a victory. The Indian team wants a left-arm pacer and that’s where Khaleel comes into the picture.
Khaleel keen to impress on the big stage
Under the guidance of Dravid and Khan, the left-arm pacer has grown from strength to strength. He has developed his skills and isn’t afraid to be part of the big stage. The difference between cricket played by Khaleel so far and the new journey will be highly different. But he is keen to learn and adapt.
It will be interesting to see that whether Khaleel gets a chance to feature for the side in the Asia Cup, given the tournament is in UAE. The pitches there are set to offer low bounce and runs aplenty. But being in the company of the senior national cricketers, Khaleel will get the requisite exposure.
Perhaps, India can try him out in a match or two and help him get the experience of the big stage.
Why selectors went for Khaleel?
Recently, BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad stated that Khaleel’s inclusion stems from the fact that India is on the lookout for more options as far fast bowling is concerned. The World Cup starts in May next year and the team so far do not have the required balance as far the right balance is put into fray.
MSK stated in the press-conference after announcing the squad that there are 2-3 slots vacant at the moment and the think tank wants to be sure of the bowlers they would pick.
“There are two, three slots we are yet to see before we fix the final team for the World Cup and one of the slots is a seamer slot which is available. We are looking at a left-hander option in Khaleel Ahmed,” he said. This is a huge opportunity for the young pacer to rake in the performances and show that he could be a part of the limited-overs side.
India does not have a left-arm pacer at the moment and perhaps Khaleel is the answer to that.