'Live in the present' ---Khaleel optimistic about World Cup chances

Left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed speaks about his beginnings, his chances to play the 2019 World Cup and a memorable spell against West Indies.

Despite not being selected for the Australia series, Khaleel Ahmed is optimistic of playing in the World Cup.   -  AFP

He’s tall, wiry, a left-armer and skilful. Add to this pace, and you get a bowler who can be a handful.

The 21-year-old Khaleel Ahmed impresses you with the fluency of his action. His bowling is a lot about rhythm, much like his idol Zaheer Khan.

“Live in the present,” is what Zaheer told him and Khaleel’s thoughts are trained at the next delivery.

“I also learnt a lot at the MRF Pace Foundation from the great Glenn McGrath and Senthilnathan sir,” Khaleel told Sportstar on Thursday.

And McGrath’s precious piece of advice stays with him. “Irrespective of the format, always try to hit the top of off-stump.” Khaleel carries the precious words with him.

The last few months have been eventful for the Rajasthan bowler from Tonk. The Indian team was seeking a left-armer with pace and Khaleel was drafted in.

Read: Versatility makes Kuldeep-Chahal tick, says Aussies spin coach

He impressed straightaway in the Asia Cup in the UAE. Here was someone with variety. Khaleel could bring the ball into the right-hander from over the wicket. He has a useful short-pitched delivery and could send down effective yorkers in the end overs.

Khaleel Ahmed always reminds himself of the advice given by his idols Glenn McGrath and Zaheer Khan.   -  GETTY IMAGES


And the versatile Khaleel bowled with verve and control from round the wicket too.

Talk to Khaleel and he remembers his spell of three for 13 in five overs against the West Indies in the Mumbai ODI. It was a vicious burst where he ripped through the West Indian batting, having Marlon Samuels caught in the cordon, trapping Shimron Hetmyer leg-before and tearing through the defence of Rovman Powell.

“I remember Samuels’ dismissal. I bowled him two inswingers and then sent down an outswinger. He nicked,” said Khaleel with a sparkle in his eyes.

Also Read: Adaptability is key against India, says Khawaja

He imbibed much from the recent tours of Australia and New Zealand where Khaleel figured in the shorter formats. “I spoke to Bharat Arun Sir [India bowling coach] and he is always so encouraging.”

Someone with a semi side-on release, Khaleel said his speed was his strength. “I have been clocked at 148 kmph and am consistently bowling at 140. If I can move the ball at that pace, I am bound to cause problems for the batsmen.”

He is not part of the Indian team for the series against Australia, but Khaleel has not given up on his World Cup dream.

“I have a good IPL and impress the selectors with the way I bowl, I could be back in contention,” he said.

Confidence is not a commodity that Khaleel lacks.

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