With barren run behind him, Avesh Khan relishing selection in all three formats

Avesh Khan returned to India’s ODI and T20I squads in 2023, and with the call-up for the Tests against England, the 27-year-old made it to the national squad in the longest format too.

Published : Jan 29, 2024 20:08 IST , PONDICHERRY - 6 MINS READ

Avesh Khan during a practice session ahead of the second Test match between India and South Africa at Newlands.
Avesh Khan during a practice session ahead of the second Test match between India and South Africa at Newlands. | Photo Credit: PTI

Avesh Khan during a practice session ahead of the second Test match between India and South Africa at Newlands. | Photo Credit: PTI

After being out of the Indian team set-up for over a year, a rejuvenated Avesh Khan is relishing being in the reckoning for all the three formats and is hungry for more game-time.

The pacer was named in India’s Test squad for the first two matches against England on the back of a fifer against South Africa A in the second ‘unofficial’ Test last month. Later on that tour to the Rainbow Nation, he received his maiden Test call-up, replacing Mohammed Shami in the squad for the second game in Cape Town.

Though he was released ahead of the first Test in Hyderabad to represent Madhya Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy fixture against Pondicherry, Avesh is glad to be on the field rather than bowling in the nets.

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“I was sent here to play and maximise match practice. It was a good decision because I got good preparation. The more I play, the more opportunities I will have to make changes and improve... When you are continuously bowling in the nets, you can’t gauge much. But when you play a match, you know where you stand, and you can correct your mistakes,” he said.

The 27-year-old returned to India’s limited-overs fold at the Asian Games in October last year after being sidelined since the home One-Day International series against South Africa in October 2022, where he went wicketless in three games. His comeback was also facilitated by the management resting India’s primary pace attack for the T20Is against Australia and Afghanistan at home and the ODIs in South Africa post the ODI World Cup final defeat.

Though he has continued to leak runs in T20Is since his return, Avesh made an impression with a four-wicket haul in the first ODI against South Africa and says he is bowling with more conviction than before at the international level.

“I was young when I understood how batters think at the international level. When I was out of the Indian team, I analysed my bowling. I started thinking ahead and anticipating what shot the batsman would play, especially in white-ball cricket. I try to bowl the ball accordingly. I have worked a lot on my execution. I try to back the delivery I have chosen to bowl with full conviction. If the batsman hits that ball also, then it’s a good shot. But if my execution of the ball I am trying to bowl is good, then it will be ninety percent in my favour,” he told Sportstar.

With Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj comprising India’s first-choice attack, Avesh is likely to be a stop-gap measure for the foreseeable future, but he is focused on being physically and mentally ‘hundred percent fit’ to grab the opportunities as they come.

“If I am not getting to play, then I think how I can develop my game in all three departments and upgrade myself,” he adds.

In the match against Pondicherry, Avesh bowled only 10 overs, as MP’s spinners took 19 of the 20 wickets, but was bowling full tilt right after the game ended on the third day. Avesh knows that hard work pays off and is happy to reap the rewards of a successful 2022-23 Ranji Trophy outing, where he had 38 scalps in just eight games, and which he believes played a role in his Test call-up.

But, for now, opportunities in limited-overs cricket are more likely to come his way, and for that, a turnaround in his Indian Premier League (IPL) form will be key. He was traded to Rajasthan Royals by Lucknow Super Giants ahead of the season after managing only eight wickets in nine games at almost 10 runs an over.

With Trent Boult and Prasidh Krishna in the Royals’ ranks, Avesh is expecting an exciting season, and is keen on picking newly appointed bowling coach Shane Bond’s brain, whose action the Indore-born pacer admires.

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