Why Khaleel Ahmed is drawing comparisons with Irfan Pathan for India

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India‘s bowlers were on song as the hosts thumped the West Indies by 224 runs in the fourth ODI held at the Brabourne stadium in Mumbai on Monday.

After the batsmen had posted 377-5 batting first, India’s bowlers dismantled the Windies batting order inside 37 overs to bowl them out for just 153.

Khaleel Ahmed was the star with the ball for India with figures of 3-13. Here, we take a closer look at the pacer’s display at Mumbai.

STATISTICS

OVERS BOWLED: 5

RUNS CONCEDED: 13

WICKETS: 3

MAIDENS: 0

ECONOMY RATE: 2.60

30-SECOND REPORT

Khaleel was handed the semi new-ball after Windies had lost their top-order cheaply in the chase of 378. The left-armed pacer got into his groove straight away and found Shimron Hetmyer’s outside edge off his very first delivery. Although that edge failed to carry to MS Dhoni, Khaleel had the batsman’s number two deliveries later after trapping him plumb in front of the wicket.

He would strike twice in his next two overs as well, with Marlon Samuels and Rovman Powell falling prey to his swing before he was taken out of the attack after the completion of his fourth over. That decision from Virat Kohli came as a surprise given his initial burst, but he got another over towards the closing stages.

 GOT RIGHT

The left-armer got the ball to swing back prodigiously into the right-handers with shades of Irfan Pathan in his bowling. The most pleasing aspect about his spell was that he got the ball to swing at an impressive pace, giving the batsmen no time to adjust.

By getting the odd ball to go away from the right-handers, Khaleel created sufficient doubts in the batsmen’s minds. By combining all these ingredients together, the pacer was more than a handful on the night as he broke the back of the Windies batting line-up.

GOT WRONG

If anything, it was Kohli who got it wrong by taking off Khaleel after the completion of his fourth over. The left-armer had developed an excellent rhythm and was flying before he was taken out of the attack. Even as the Windies’ lower order offered some resistance, Kohli refused to turn to Khaleel again. Who knows how many more wickets the youngster could have picked up with a few more overs under his belt.

VERDICT – 9/10

For so long India have thirsted for a left-arm replacement for Zaheer Khan and Pathan in their pace battery. With Khaleel’s emergence, they might have just found the answer to that burning question. In full flight like he was on Monday, Khaleel can be a potent weapon for India with his ability to swing the ball at pace.

What he can do is provide the perfect complement to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah in India’s pace department and with the World Cup looming large, the team management will be delighted by Khaleel’s excellent show. What India must do now is persist with the pacer in the final ODI while giving him an extended run in the ODI squad in the lead-up to the World Cup.

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