India selected left-arm fast bowler Khaleel Ahmed for the upcoming Asia Cup in the UAE, adding an intriguing twist to the squad.
India’s seam bowling attack is dominated by right-arm quicks across formats with left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav the only southpaw to feature regularly.
Recently, India had given chances to left-arm seamers Barinder Sran and Jaydev Unadkat in white-ball cricket but neither of them have reached the levels attained by Irfan Pathan or RP Singh. None of them have even come close to filling the void created after the departure of the best left-arm quick produced by India – Zaheer Khan.
Khaleel has become a successful white-ball bowler. Hailing from Tonk in the Indian state of Rajasthan, the 20-year-old has 28 wickets from 17 List ‘A’ matches and 17 wickets from 12 T20 matches.
Since July, he has been part of the India ‘A’ team for 50-over matches and has picked up at least one wicket in nine straight matches, in England and at home. His best efforts in recent months have been 3-45 against South Africa ‘A’ in Bengaluru and 3-48 against England Lions in London.
According to reports, Khaleel has added a yard or two of pace. Lack of pace was one of the reasons why Sran and Unadkat failed to succeed at the top level.
Khaleel learned the tricks of the trade during his two-year stint at Delhi Daredevils alongside Zaheer and this year at Sunrisers Hyderabad with Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the IPL.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Khaleel said he tried to learn from Bhuvneshwar about how to prepare as a bowler.
“With Bhuvneshwar at Sunrisers, I learnt about death bowling,” said Khaleel. “How he trains in the nets, how he practices bowling yorkers and does target practice. He is a very simple person, and is always ready to offer advice.”
India’s bowling arsenal is well-stocked with enough variety. What they are missing is a quality left-arm quick. Australia (Mitchell Starc), Pakistan (Mohammad Amir among many others), New Zealand (Trent Boult), Bangladesh (Mustafizur Rahman) and now even England (Sam Curran) have excellent left-arm bowlers. India will be hoping Khaleel makes an impression, as and when he gets an opportunity.
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