Khaleel Ahmed can be the an important piece of India’s 2019’s World Cup jigsaw

There’s something about Khaleel Khursheed Ahmed. Perhaps it is the fact that he is a left-arm pacer – a rarity in Indian cricket. Or the way he angles the ball across the batsman both ways. Or maybe it is just Indians getting excited about seeing a young pace bowler making news again. But you cannot deny that Khaleel Ahmed has some spark in him.

The 20-year-old seam bowler has only featured in 6 ODIs for India but has shown traces of his talent in them. While he doesn’t have express pace yet, he generates good bounce and movement and the angles he creates are difficult to negotiate for the batsmen as he showcased in his spell of 3-13 in the 4th ODI against the West Indies on a flat deck at Mumbai. With some proper guidance and honing of his skills, Khaleel, who recently made his India debut during the Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates, can become a potent weapon in India’s bowling armoury leading up to the ICC World Cup in England next year.

Former Indian left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan has been all praises for 20-year-old Khaleel and feels he has it in him to go big. The youngster has spent two seasons with Zaheer during his time with the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and according to Khaleel, the senior bowler’s tips have really helped him.

If Khaleel can improve from here on and add a few varieties to his repertoire, then he can be a really lethal option on the pitches in England. India’s bowling needs variety. Bhuvaneshvar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah pick themselves. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will likely be taking care of the spin bowling duties. The third seamer slot has been giving some headache to the Indian team management with Umesh Yadav being inconsistent and Shradul Thakur not really grabbing his opportunities.

Khaleel comes as a breath of fresh air with his youthful exuberance and ability to move the ball both ways. If he can maintain consistency and become a reliable wicket-taker in the middle overs then he can make a huge difference to the Indian ODI team. Often India ends up leaking a lot of runs courtesy the third seam bowling option. Virat Kohli would be hoping that young Khaleel Ahmed can live up the promise and maturity he has shown and take more responsibilities as India prepares for the big World Cup next year.

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