Khaleel Ahmed: IND v WI series a good preparation for the World Cup

With an eye on gaining a spot in India’s World Cup squad, the left-arm seamer is keen on taking “as many wickets as I can” leading up to the marquee event.

Butterflies in the stomach: Khaleel Ahmed admits having been nervous on debut in the Asia Cup.   -  AP

Having set his sights on gaining a spot in India’s 2019 World Cup squad, left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed hopes to perform well in the upcoming One-Day International series against West Indies.

The 20-year-old, who made his debut during India’s successful Asia Cup campaign in Dubai, has carved his niche as a bowler who can swing the ball at a lively pace. He impressed India’s stand-in captain Rohit Sharma.

Hoping to build on his reputation, Khaleel looks to utilise his opportunities well. “It’s a good preparation for me for the World Cup. I want to take as many wickets as I can in the [One-Day Internationals] leading up to the World Cup. It will also boost my confidence and I will be under less pressure, if I am picked for the World Cup,” Khaleel said ahead of India’s first ODI against West Indies on Sunday.

Influence of Zaheer Khan

Mentorship from Zaheer Khan at Delhi Daredevils has helped him evolve, according to Khaleel. “I think I became a better bowler with his (Zaheer’s) advice,” he said. “I have spent a lot of time with Zaheer bhai during my two-year stint at the Delhi Daredevils. We played in different conditions during [the Indian Premier League] and he always kept discussing on how to bowl on different surfaces,” he added.

Khaleel recalled how nervous he was before his debut against Hong Kong, in which he recorded impressive figures of 3 for 48. “I was very nervous (for my debut) as my first tournament happened to be a big tournament like the Asia Cup. There was pressure. But after doing well on debut, I felt I could go further,” Khaleel said after a practice session at Assam Cricket Association’s Barsapara Stadium.

Khaleel credited his seniors for not allowing him to feel like a newcomer. “I never have a feel that I’m a junior in the side. Seniors support me well. Everyone keeps talking to me and boost my confidence,” he said of the good camaraderie in the side, he said.