Khaleel Ahmed, a 20-year-old left-handed bowler in the Tonk region of Rajasthan, is the new boy on the block. Thanks to his fierce rhythm and good swing of Khaleel, he has won a first call on the Indian side for the next Asian Cup. Khaleel, who idolizes Zaheer Khan, will play under the leadership of Rohit Sharma, as the selectors have let Virat Kohli rest for the tournament.
"I was packing for a practice session and my parents called me and asked me to attend a call, it was about my call to India for the Asian Cup, I was very happy, I started hugging my parents. Asia is a great tournament and being selected is very important for any cricketer, it still feels like a dream, "Khaleel told NDTV.com in an exclusive interview.
"I had a good home run against South Africa A and Australia A. I had the intuition that I would be selected, if I have the opportunity to play in the eleven, I will give my best show," said an emotional Khaleel. .
Khaleel has played 17 games on List A taking 28 fields at an economy rate of 4.74. He also played 12 Twenty20 games and a couple of first class games.
"All I want to do is go and act, I want to give my best and consolidate my place for a long time," he said.
Khaleel is a fervent admirer of Zaheer. The boy from Rajasthan spent a season of IPL with Zaheer in Delhi Daredevils in 2016.
The young pacemaker used to keep a diary while interacting with Zaheer and taking note of the advice given by the legend.
"He (Zaheer) has played a lot of cricket for our country, when he needed advice and advice, he was always available, I used to keep a diary with me, I used to write everything Zaheer bhai told me during training sessions." I have that diary and every time I have a problem and I need help, I open it and, believe me, it really helps in my bowling, "Khaleel said.
"The newspaper is with me, I will take some advice in the Asian Cup, I want to do what Zaheer has done for India," he said.
Khaleel is one of the many talents conditioned by batting legend Rahul Dravid. Dravid has been advising Khaleel since the 2016 U-19 World Cup. Khaleel was under the guidance of Dravid for two seasons in the Indian Premier League and recently concluded India. A tour of England.
"I have spent two seasons under the guidance of Sir Rahul Dravid in IPL, he was a trainer during the U-19 World Cup in 2016 and on tours of India A. He has helped me improve my skills. Where I am right now … He taught me how to handle the pressure … His training style is very different from the others, "Khaleel said.
The young man from Rajasthan also recalled the word of wisdom of the former Indian cricketer who nurtured his career.
"His words – jeetna aur harna mat socho, jao khelo (Do not think about winning and losing, going and playing) has helped the whole U-19 team and India A. It has worked a lot for me, I feel positive when he is close "
Asked if he can become India's next Zaheer Khan, Khaleel said: "Zaheer is a legend and has his own identity, I want to be the first Khaleel Ahmed for India, I want to play for a long time for my country.
"I only have one goal, I want to retire with more land than Zaheer, so I can call him and disturb him," Khaleel said jokingly.