Khaleel Ahmed, who was roped in by Sunrisers Hyderabad for 3 crores during the IPL auction in January, has been doing wonders in domestic cricket of late. After scalping 10 wickets in 6 matches at an average and economy-rate of 23.40 and 4.77 respectively in this year’s Vijay Hazare Trophy, Khaleel wreaked havoc on the Karnataka batsmen in Deodhar Trophy final last week.
While playing for India ‘B’, the 20-year-old Khaleel bowled with serious pace and intensity that reduced Karnataka to 64 for 4, from which they never quite recovered and eventually lost the Vijay Hazare Trophy final by 6 wickets.
In an exclusive interview with Ahmedabad Mirror, Khaleel Ahmed talked about his recent success and the advice he got from coach Rahul Dravid while playing in 2016 Under-19 World Cup.
“The biggest benefit was that we were under Rahul Dravid sir. He taught us a lot, about how life is off the field, and how important discipline is for a player. He told me to take care of my fitness so that one can play for a long period,” Khaleel told Ahmedabad Mirror.
Although Khaleel is yet to make his IPL debut, he was with Delhi Daredevils for two years wherein he got the chance to interact with India’s great left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan. Speaking about his time at Delhi Daredevils, Khaleel said he learnt a lot from Zaheer and the veteran paceman also corrected a lot of my technical issues.
“The one and only Zaheer Khan. I was with him at Delhi Daredevils for two years. He was a great bowler, and I learnt a lot from him. He taught me how to bowl on different pitches in India… what line and length to bowl to which batsman. He’s corrected a lot of my technical issues, because of which I had a good domestic season,” Ahmed revealed.
When asked about the secret of his consistent 140+ kmph bowling speed, Khaleel cited that it came from playing lots of tennis-ball cricket in Tonk, which still lacks proper turf wickets.
“There is a lot of tennis-ball cricket there. In terms of facilities, there are still only cement pitches. Even now if I get a chance I go to the academy there to practice on cement pitches. I have played a lot of tennis-ball cricket. If you start with a tennis ball, that is good. The tennis ball is light so you have to rely only on speed to beat and dismiss a batsman. That improves your arm rotation which in turn increases your speed, if you play tennisball from a young age,” he remarked.
Khaleel Ahmed belongs from a humble background. His father is a doctor but he never thought of learning about medicines.
“I didn’t learn anything about medicine… I try to stay away from medicines,” he quips.
He concluded by talking about his popularity back in his hometown i.e. Tonk (Rajasthan).
“I’ve a busy schedule when I go there. Almost everyone knows me there. They’re all so happy for me,” Khaleel signed-off.