Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi and India's Khaleel Ahmed in battle of emerging left-arm quicks in Asia Cup

Ajit Vijaykumar 07:04 05/09/2018
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Shaheen Afridi (l) and Khaleel Ahmed.

The upcoming Asia Cup tournament in the UAE won’t feature India captain Virat Kohli, robbing the tournament of some of its sheen. However there are still many interesting plots in the tournament that should enthrall fans.

While the India-Pakistan clash on September 19 is on everyone radar, two players have raised the interest levels following their selection for the Asia Cup. And that’s because they are young and exciting left-arm fast bowlers.

Cricket has had a special relation with left-arm pacers. The novelty they bring to the game is such that many times they get a spot in the playing XI just because they bowl left arm.

The selection of Pakistan teen sensation Shaheeh Afridi and India’s left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed in their respective sides has raised the prospects of witnessing the defining moments of possibly successful careers.

Afridi grabbed headlines earlier in the year as he starred during the Under-19 World Cup. There he finished with 12 wickets from five games but more importantly, impressed with his build, high-arm action and extreme pace.

Afridi continued his excellent work for Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League and earned his international cap by April, in the T20 against West Indies in Karachi.

The 18-year-old has played three T20s and should make his ODI debut at some stage in the Asia Cup which also includes India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and another qualifier.

Pakistan have left-arm ace Mohammad Amir in their line-up while there is also Usman Shenwari and Junaid Khan. But given that Afridi is quicker than all of them, he could be picked as the second left-armer especially against lighter teams.

India, on the other hand, have picked rookie left-arm paceman Ahmed. The 20-year-old hails from Tonk in the Indian state of Rajasthan and has 28 wickets from 17 List ‘A’ matches and 17 wickets from 12 T20 games.

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 successive games, in England and at home. His best efforts in recent months were 3-45 against South Africa ‘A’ in Bengaluru and 3-48 against England Lions in London.

Since India haven’t had any quality left-arm fast bowler for many years, Ahmed also has a good chance of getting game-time at some stage in the tournament.

He is reported to have added a few yards of pace to his bowling and that should convince the team management of giving the youngster an outing even on the sluggish surfaces in the UAE.

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