Who is Khaleel Ahmed, India’s Debutant at Asia Cup?
A 20-year-old from Rajasthan is Indian cricket’s latest prospect for filling the spot of a left-arm seamer in the ODI team. Ignoring the likes of Jaydev Unadkat and Barinder Sran, the selectors gave Khaleel Ahmed from Tonk his maiden senior team call-up for the Asia Cup. And on 18 September, the 20-year-old received his cap ahead of India’s opener against Hong Kong.
During the team’s announcement, chairman of selectors MSK Prasad had said, “Yes there are 2-3 slots that we are yet to finalise. One is a left handed seamer’s slot where we are looking at Khaleel. So for those spots we will be trying and we will look at these 24 matches. As we move closer towards World Cup, you guys will come to know”.
Rahul Dravid Connect
Despite initial resistance from his parents about his cricket, Khaleel managed to reach the big leagues at an early age. During the Tri-Nation Under-19s tournament in Colombo, he picked 12 wickets in three innings, including a 3/29 in the final against Sri Lanka.
Known for his pace and ability to rise off a length, Khaleel was subsequently picked for the U19 World Cup in 2016. Playing under the guidance of coach Rahul Dravid, the left-arm seamer was a regular part of the side but only managed to take 3 scalps in 6 matches.
Ahmed continued to be mentored under Dravid as he was bagged by Delhi Daredevils for Rs 10 lakh in the 2016 IPL auction. Though he didn’t get a game during his two years with the team, he received technical advice from pacer and then captain Zaheer Khan on his bowling and wrist position.
What Earned Him an Asia Cup Slot
Known to have the ability to hustle batsmen, Khaleel has taken 28 wickets in the 17 List A matches he has played.
After an unimpressive stint in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy, picking two wickets in two matches, Khaleel grabbed eyeballs with his performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament. In the ten T20 matches he played, the young bowler took 17 wickets at an economy rate of 6.76, including a 2/23 against champions Delhi in the final.
In the six 50-over matches he played during the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Khaleel picked up 10 wickets with an economy rate of 4.77. On the back of this performance, he was bagged by Sunrisers Hyderabad for a whopping Rs 3 crore, from a base price of Rs 20 lakh in the IPL auction this year. He played just one game, returning with figures of 0/38 in the three overs he bowled.
After his successful domestic returns, Khaleel was picked for India A’s tour of England in June-July, and the quadrangular series in August. In the 50-over match tri-series in England, he picked a total of 6 wickets in three matches, with an economy rate of 4.55. In fact, Khaleel has picked at least a wicket in the last nine matches he has played for India A!
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