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Khaleel Ahmed aspires to better idol Zaheer Khan’s wicket tally in international cricket

He hopes to cement his place in the Indian team and also aspires to better Khan’s tally of wickets (610) in international cricket.

Khaleel Ahmed
Khaleel Ahmed. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Not many had expected him to make the cut but destiny had its own plans for youngster Khaleel Ahmed. The 20-year-old got his maiden call for the India squad for Asia Cup 2018 set to be played in the UAE later this month. Born in Tonk, Rajasthan, Ahmed has played only a couple of first-class games besides one match in the Indian Premier League for Sunrisers Hyderabad this season.

Ahmed picked 15 wickets in his last nine matches for India ‘A’, five of which were played in England. Though the owner of just two wickets in first-class games, Ahmed has 28 wickets in 17 List A games and 17 scalps in 12 T20 outings.

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World Cup slots up for grabs

The selectors found in the left-arm pacer a prospect for the future. “Two to three slots are yet to be sealed before we finalise a squad for the World Cup and among those slots, one is that of a seamer. We are looking at a left-arm option in Khaleel,” chief selector MSK Prasad told reporters after announcing the team.

India will be led by Rohit Sharma in the tournament which also has Asian powerhouses like Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Regular captain Virat Kohli has been rested for the tournament for the upcoming tour of Australia in November-January.

Khaleel was excited to no end after earning his maiden India call. “I still can’t believe that I have made it to the Indian team. That too for the Asia Cup! It is a big moment for me. Ever since I played cricket, I have been aggressive and have always wanted to do something in life. It feels great to be rewarded,” Khaleel was quoted as saying by Sportstar on Saturday.

He got his call for the India ‘A’ squad for the England tour and the quadrangular series in India in August after picking 17 wickets in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He continued with his good work and thanked the selectors for considering him.

Have learnt a lot from Zaheer Khan

The young pacer, who grew up playing the game with the tennis ball which he believes helped him gain bounce even on dull surfaces, idolises former Indian left-arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan. Khaleel was in touch with Zaheer during his stint with Delhi Daredevils in the IPL in 2016 and 2017 season and he learned from the seasoned bowler how to bring the ball back into the batsman. He looks forward to make use of the skill in Asia Cup.

He hopes to cement his place in the Indian team and also aspires to better Khan’s tally of wickets (610) in international cricket. He said that’s his way of paying tribute to his mentor.

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