Holdingwilley The second best way to enjoy cricket
Due to some technical problems, we are unable to cover live matches on our site and app. We are working on it and will be back soon. Please stay tuned for more.

Khaleel Ahmed: India's exciting new fast bowler


Khaleel_Ahmed_India_CricketSix months ago, if you told Khaleel Ahmed that he would make his International debut this year, he might have had a hearty laugh. He had played in just one match for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the entire 2018 IPL season, picked up zero wickets and ended with an economy rate of 12.66.

Meanwhile, Umesh Yadav, Deepak Chahar, Siddharth Kaul, Shardul Thakur and Ankit Rajpoot were making all the right noises, and in the process enhancing the pool of India’s fast bowling reserves. Yet the moment things went downhill with a few of the aforementioned names, Khaleel Ahmed earned a surprise call-up to the Asia Cup squad.

There were perhaps two factors favouring Khaleel. First, the obvious left-arm advantage; something India have lacked since the failed Jaydev Unadkat experiment and Ashish Nehra's retirement. Second, an ability to move the ball, late, back into the right handers. He proved himself to be a worthy net bowler for the Indian batsmen who struggle against left-arm seam and a potent attacking option up front with the ball.

The second was perhaps why he was retained following an Asia Cup where he made an impressive debut. There was something about Khaleel which one couldn't pinpoint then and there, yet he stood out. In an Indian fast bowling line-up where Jasprit Bumrah is the only king, Khaleel was a much-needed find.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar hasn't been at his best in coloured clothing of late and while he undoubtedly remains the second-choice seamer, Khaleel adds the extra zing that the attack has so sorely missed. After a rip-roaring show at Thiruvananthapuram in the final ODI of the series and an equally eye-catching T20I debut at the Eden Gardens, Khaleel is the talk of the town.


"Khaleel looks a very exciting prospect. He is sharp and has the skills to do well in international cricket. He is a very exciting prospect," said bowling coach Bharat Arun. "We have a very good fast bowling quartet. And also, the bench strength is very exciting.”


India have unprecedented wealth in the pace bowling attack. This is perhaps a factor that would spur Khaleel on to put in consistent performances, for in this line-up, nothing is guaranteed.

His ability is in shaping the ball back into right-handers late, with the odd one straightening off the seam. This was on full view in the series against the Windies where he constantly peppered the visiting batsmen with his left-armer's angle. Clocking decent pace, Khaleel has a handy yorker and a surprise bouncer which he has used well so far in his career.

Despite little experience at International level, Khaleel's rise could be attributed in part to his Zaheer Khan-like quality. Khaleel, when bowling in full tilt, has an uncanny resemblance to Zaheer, particularly when he manages to shape the ball back in.


"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 IPL and he always kept discussing how to bowl on different surfaces,” Khaleel has said. Zaheer's influence can be seen in the manner in which Khaleel adapts to various pitches and conditions.


At Thiruvananthapuram, he was prepared to bowl full in search of swing and found plenty of it. At Kolkata, with the pitch aiding pace yet stopping a bit on the batsmen, Khaleel used his cutters to good effect. The conversation with Zaheer on how to bowl on different surfaces seems to have served Khaleel well. His intelligence is in his adaptability.

When he steams in and lands it full, he knows he is doing it because there is a promise of swing on offer. That kind of awareness and execution is always welcome from a youngster. Bharat Arun and Rohit Sharma are right in showering praise on the left-arm seamer.

At Pune, in the fourth ODI, Khaleel tore through the West Indian top-order, taking one wicket in each of his first three overs. He had the dangerous Shimron Hetmyer trapped in front early on before castling Rovman Powell in the next over. Khaleel had the measure of Marlon Samuels and promptly had him caught in the cordon to complete a searing spell.

If there is anything about Khaleel that doesn't make you sit up and take notice, you haven't been watching the game right. The youngster is a valuable addition in India's limited-overs squad ahead of the World Cup and is potentially the right wingman to the irresistible leader of the strike force, Jasprit Bumrah. The Australian tour should test the youngster's determination and courage, and could well hold the key to his World Cup berth.

Rate this article:

About the author

Avg. Reads:
FB Likes:

A cricket enthusiast striving to convey the finer details of the game in a capsule. I hope to prese...

View Full Profile

Related Content