Having impressed the team management with his skill set, left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed now wants seal his spot in the 2019 World Cup bound Indian squad with some good performances in the upcoming series against the West Indies.
Khaleel made his debut during India’s victorious Asia Cup campaign in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and his ability to swing the ball at a fair pace impressed none other than stand-in captain Rohit Sharma. With 18 games left before India’s World Cup opener against South Africa on June 5, next year, Khaleel has his priorities in place.
“It’s a good preparation for me for the World Cup. I want to take as many wickets as I can in the ODIs leading up to the World Cup. It will also boost my confidence and I will be under less pressure, if I am picked for the World Cup,” Khaleel said ahead of India’s first ODI against West Indies on Sunday. His stint at the Delhi Daredevils with Zaheer Khan as the mentor has helped him evolve, felt Khaleel. “I think I became a better bowler with his (Zaheer’s) advice,” the 20-year-old from Rajasthan’s Tonk said.
“I have spent a lot of time with Zaheer bhai during my two-year stint at the Delhi Daredevils. We played in different conditions during Indian Premier League and he always kept discussing on how to bowl on different surfaces,” he added. In his second series with the senior team, Khaleel recalled how nervous he was before his debut against Hong Kong, in which he recorded impressive figures of three for 48.
“I was very nervous (during my debut) as my first tournament happened to be a big one like the Asia Cup. There was pressure. But after doing well on debut, I felt I could go further,” Khaleel said after the net session at Assam Cricket Association’s Barsapra Stadium. Even though it’s his second series, Khaleel said that the seniors have never made him feel like a newcomer. “I never have a feeling that I’m a junior in the side. Seniors support me well. Everyone keeps talking to me and boost my confidence,” he said of the good camaraderie in the side.