Among the 971 players to have registered for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 auction in Kolkata in December is 28-year-old medium-pacer Muhammad Ahsan Ali Khan. Born and raised in Pakistan, Khan moved to the U.S. at the age of 18 and is the only American cricketer to register for the players’ auction. Khan will be hoping he’s second time lucky after not making the cut in the last auction in Jaipur.
With the eight franchises all set to submit their shortlist of players, by Monday, December 9, Sportstar caught up with Khan.
You are the only U.S. cricketer to register for the IPL auctions. Do you fancy your chances at going under the hammer this time?
First of all, it’s a great honour to be the only USA player in the draft. I was in the auction last year but wasn’t picked, which was tough as I thought my chances were pretty good. This year, if I get picked, it’ll be something of a bonus. Since I started playing seriously, the IPL has been the one I’ve targeted. It’d be a dream come true.
What's the private T20 cricket tournament scene like back in the USA?
The biggest is the US Open, which is where I started my cricket journey back in 2013 and gained some notoriety. It’s in Florida, played every year and it’s the best way to get noticed by those running USA cricket.
We have a lot of turf grounds springing up, but club cricket is yet to take hold in a lot of areas of the country. Players like myself playing around the world are generating interest and parents are starting to send their kids to cricket academies in places like NYC and New Jersey which is pretty exciting for the future.
Your bowling impressed West Indies great Courtney Walsh during an open trial at Indianapolis. Could you share that experience?
He was a coach of the combined 2015 ICC Americas team which I was selected for. We played in the regional Super50 in the West Indies which was my first serious cricket. Walsh was impressed with my ability to repeatedly bowl yorkers which he stressed that I should keep learning and striving to add more skills to my game. I met him at the AllStars tournament in the USA a few years ago and I hope he’s pleased with how I’ve progressed since. I’d certainly welcome the opportunity to learn from him in the future.
How was the experience of playing in the Caribbean Premier League, and how did it feel to pick Kumar Sangakkara’s wicket on your debut?
CPL is a great learning experience. I took Sanga’s wicket with my first ball. I nicked him off the first ball and felt on top of the world. Andre Russell then got after me and I came crashing down to earth. I’ve had to learn to manage my emotions on the field and playing with the likes of [Dwayne] Bravo, Sunil Narine and Brendon McCullum certainly helps me deal with pressure.
The USA national cricket team has made rapid strides in recent years. How will exposure to leagues like the IPL help the players back home?
USA cricket is growing, we have ODI status which we secured earlier this year in Namibia which was huge for us. I was the highest wicket-taker in that tournament which was a great feeling — I wanted to give back to the team that gave me my chance in the game. The knowledge I gain from the leagues and playing with true legends of the game can only help my team-mates as I feed that back to some of the younger guys.