VEDANT SHARMA | 24 SEPTEMBER, 2018
Ahmed uses his tall frame to good effect, extracting bounce and letting the pitch do the talking
Seldom do we see an individual blend dedication, fortitude and grit to epitomise a kind of perfection in the most beautiful way. Working aggressively with full determination has been the mantra of the current Indian team which 20-year-old K. Khaleel Ahmed has adopted as well.
Left-arm fast bowler Khaleel Ahmed, who made his debut against minnows Hong Kong, was able to help the Indian team survive a mighty scare before recording an unimpressive 26-run win. The unheralded Hong Kong opening pair had recorded a partnership of 174 runs, raising hopes that world cricket would witness the biggest upset in last decade. But Ahmed helped the team to come back into the game as he trapped Nizakat Khan plumb in front of the wicket.
On this memorable outing he grabbed three wickets, one with the cross seam, another with the outswinger and one with the slower one coming out of the back of the hand. He finished his quota of ten overs at an economy of 4.80.
Khaleel Ahmed was born in Tonk, Rajasthan and learned the art of quick bowling by playing tennis ball cricket. He believes that playing on cemented wickets helped make the rotation of his arm as quick as possible. After entering the limelight because of his lightning fast bowling action, Khaleel decided to take the sport seriously and professionally.
His hard work and determination led him to feature in the U-19 squad for the 2016 World Cup. The guidance of Rahul Dravid made him look a different player altogether. Although he only managed to pick three wickets in six games played, but had done enough to be in the mix of things for Dravid.
After the conclusion of the ICC event, Khaleel was picked by the IPL franchise Delhi Daredevils where he got a chance to learn and play alongside the greats of Indian cricket, Dravid and Zaheer Khan. What he learned in the ninth edition despite not getting a game in the IPL helped him improve his own game.
The 2017-18 season also saw his debut in all three formats for his state team. His superlative effort for Rajasthan last season helped him first to feature in a quadrangular series before getting the maiden call-up to play at the international level.
Zaheer Khan - His Idol
Ahmed uses his tall frame to good effect, extracting bounce and letting the pitch do the talking. The wide-shouldered fast bowler not only picked three crucial wickets on his first outing but also impressed everyone with his skidding pace and rhythm. He idolises former Indian speedster Zaheer Khan, and coincidentally recorded the same bowling figures Khan did on his debut in 2000.
With age and talent on his side, it will be important for Ahmed to take things one match at a time and not think too far ahead. Even as people begin comparing him to Zaheer Khan, the most challenging task will be to perform with that pressure.
Having got the perfect start in the international arena, it will be important for the young man to capitalise on it. In the match against Hong Kong it was seen that former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was constantly providing tips to Ahmed on how to go about his bowling.
It is believed that Rohit Sharma along with other players and management are backing this talent to play long and well. A good way to begin the long journey would be to show consistency in the Asia Cup, and not let any spectacles come in the way.