Left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed has said that the guidance and expertise shared and welcoming nature of both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma has been a massive help for a talented youngster like him and they've helped attain an enjoyable freedom to express himself.
Khaleel, who has made his India debut during the Asia Cup in UAE, has played just nine international games for the country so far and has already exhibited signs of improvement each time been observed. He says that working alongside and spending time with Virat, Rohit and even the might of Mahendra Singh Dhoni has seen him wisen up for the task.
“It has been a dream ride by God’s grace. I am living a dream, but this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the senior members in the Indian team," the 20-year-old told Hindustan Times, "Starting from Kohli bhai and Rohit bhai, they have all been very welcoming and made me feel at home from the word go. As a youngster going into the team, I was nervous to be honest, but they gave me the freedom to express myself with the ball."
“You might feel a lot of things about your own capabilities. But till the time the seniors don’t show that faith in your abilities, it means nothing. Both Kohli bhai( skipper in the ODI series) and Rohit bhai (captain during the Asia Cup as well as the T20I series) gave me that freedom and liberty."
"They said go and express yourself. Not for once did they wish to dictate the kind of field I should have or the line and length I should bowl. I am blessed to have such leaders,” he asserted with a smile.
Khaleel even got the chance to play under the great MS Dhoni during Super 4 encounter of the Asia Cup against Afghanistan. Talking about the wicketkeeper-batsman, he said, "I had the privilege of bowling with Mahi bhai behind the wicket. You know what is the best part for a bowler when he is keeping wickets? You don’t think about dropped catches and edges going through the gap when he is manning the zone behind the wicket."
"If you saw, I would keep the slip a little wide coz I knew Mahi bhai is there. As a bowler that sense of faith is huge," he expressed, "This apart, he was always there to tell me the line and length I should be focusing on. His calm demeanour almost rubs off on you."
Looking forward now to the T20Is series in Australia, which kickstarts on November 21, Khaleel is already gearing up for the challenge and says that the focus is on getting familiar with the conditions quickly.
“We are going there a few days before the opening T20I and that will definitely help us gauge the situation and the conditions on offer. I am not thinking too far ahead and will look to make the most of the opportunities presented. Yes, the wickets will aid fast bowling and the idea will be to bowl in the right areas and make the batsmen commit mistakes,” he signed off.