On top of the world

Hyderabad 'keeper Ibrahim Khaleel stumps a Maharashtra batsman during their Ranji Trophy Plate Group ‘B' match. In the match against Assam in Guwahati on November 20, Khaleel had 14 victims for a world record.-P. RAVIKIRAN

“Honestly, this could not have come at a more appropriate time of my career given the fact that I as an individual and the team as a whole are going through a bad phase,” says the world record holder, Ibrahim Khaleel. By V.V. Subrahmanyam.

Ibrahim Khaleel is on a high following his world record-breaking feat of maximum scalps behind the stumps in first-class cricket. The 29-year-old Hyderabad player achieved the feat against Assam in a Ranji Trophy Plate Group ‘B' match in Guwahati on November 20 when he claimed 14 victims (11 catches and three stumpings).

“I just couldn't believe it when my video analyst Venugopal informed me about this. It took some time for the feeling (of being a world record-holder) to sink in,” Khaleel said later.

“Honestly, this could not have come at a more appropriate time of my career given the fact that I as an individual and the team as a whole are going through a bad phase especially after we were bowled out by Maharashtra for 54 in the previous match,” remarked the wicketkeeper who eclipsed the previous world record of 13 victims (11 catches and two stumpings) by W. R. James, playing for Matabeland versus Mashonaland in Bulawayo in 1995-96.

“I will be failing in my duty if I don't express my gratitude to Steve Rixon (former Aussie wicketkeeper who was the coach of Hyderabad Heroes in the rebel ICL League for which Khaleel played),” remarked the elated Hyderabad stumper. “He gave me some invaluable tips which made me a far better wicketkeeper and also a more disciplined cricketer,” he added.

“Rixon demonstrated how I should handle pressure to be a more successful cricketer. And this is one of the reasons why I could shrug off the dismal start I had this season against Jharkhand,” Khaleel, whose father M. A. Khaleel was also a wicketkeeper for Railways, pointed out.

In Hyderabad's opening fixture of the current Ranji season, against Jharkhand, Khaleel dropped quite a few catches.

“I am also grateful to the HCA officials for reposing their faith in me, and special thanks to former Ranji wicketkeeper Faiyazuddin Baig for making some minor adjustments (to my technique),” said Khaleel, who plays for Ensconse in the HCA League.

Khaleel, who made his Ranji debut in 2002-03 and has so far had 140 catches and 20 stumpings in first-class cricket, is keen on working hard to realise his dream (“It's the dream of each of my Ranji team-mate to move into the Elite Group”).

“Well, there is no end to improving and I only hope to be a much better stumper in the days to come and achieve the bigger objective of seeing Hyderabad in the Elite Group,” he said.