The national selectors earlier on Saturday announced India’s squad for the upcoming Asia Cup, raising quite a few eyebrows with their team composition.
One of the most talked about points after the unveiling of the 16-man was the absence of captain Virat Kohli’s name from the list, with limited-overs vice-captain Rohit Sharma taking over the leadership duties. Kohli has been afforded rest by the national selectors after the lengthy tour of England and Ireland, and Rohit will be captaining the side for the second time this year, having led them to victory in the Nidahas Trophy earlier this year.
Among some of the other changes in the squad was the inclusion of Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav. Umesh Yadav Suresh Raina and Shreyas Iyer were some of the names left out, while Mayank Agarwal, who has been prolific with the bat of late, was once again given the cold shoulder.
It was the inclusion of the uncapped Khaleel Ahmed that also did the rounds on social media. Ahmed, who has played a total of one match in the Indian Premier League till date, is relatively new even to the Indian domestic circuit.
Here’s all you need to know about the 20-year-old left-arm pacer who could very well realise his dream of donning the blue jersey later this month:
Born on 5 December, 1997 in the town of Tonk in Rajasthan, Ahmed is a front-line left-arm seamer who only made his entry into senior-level cricket in 2017, having represented his state across formats ever since. He has also played for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) earlier this year in the IPL, as well as for the India ‘A’ team.
X-Factor: “He’s a bowler to watch out for. He has the ingredients to develop into a match-winner,” said Indian pace legend and Ahmed’s idol Zaheer Khan in a report on The Hindu.
In a relatively short career so far, Ahmed has been noticed for his raw pace — something that he attributes to his experience of playing with the tennis ball — as well as the ability to bowl along an awkward angle, something that left-armers usually are known for.
Domestic record: Ahmed has made a total of two First-Class appearances for Rajasthan, having made his debut against Jammu and Kashmir in the last edition of the Ranji Trophy.
The left-arm pacer has also played 17 List- A and 12 T20s, having brought up a four-wicket haul in each format.
Indian Premier League: Ahmed was picked up by the Delhi Daredevils for his base price of Rs 10 lakh in 2016, shortly after the U-19 World Cup. While he didn’t get a game that season, he continued to work closely with his U-19 coach and Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid, who was mentoring the Daredevils at the time.
Two years later, his luck took a turn for the better when SRH decided to get into a bidding war over his services, and eventually bought him for a price tag of Rs 3 crore. He played only one game for the Kane Williamson-led team, conceding 38 runs without a wicket from the three overs that he bowled against Kolkata Knight Riders in the second qualifier.
Recent record: Ahmed managed to catch the attention of the national selectors during the India ‘A’ tour of England, emerging the pick of the bowlers in the Triangular Series final against England Lions with a haul of 3/48.
Representing India ‘A’ in the recently-concluded Quadrangular Series also featuring India B as well as the South African and Australian ‘A’ teams, Khaleel finishing third among the wicket-takers list (seven wickets; average: 17; economy: 4.38), including a three-wicket haul.