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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

ICC World Cup 2019: At the nets with Team India’s fast boys

Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar and Avesh Khan, the next generation of Indian fast bowlers, will fly with the India team on May 23 to England for the World Cup beginning May 30.

cricket Updated: May 18, 2019 08:48 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
File image of India cricketer Khaleel Ahmed.
File image of India cricketer Khaleel Ahmed.(AFP)

While India’s pace bowling attack, comprising Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami, will shoulder the responsibility of taking wickets during the World Cup, an equally important role will be played by the young quartet of pacers who are travelling as net bowlers to bowl at India batsmen during training.

Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar and Avesh Khan, the next generation of Indian fast bowlers, will fly with the India team on May 23 to England for the World Cup beginning May 30.

There have been talks that Khaleel and Saini have been kept on standby in case of injury to any of the frontline bowlers. The two did reasonably well in what was, technically, their first season at the Indian Premier League.

Also Read: ICC World Cup 2019: Mohammad Amir included in Pakistan squad

Saini, who played the IPL for the first time this year although he had been part of squads before, picked 11 wickets in 13 matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore while Khaleel, who had played just one IPL game before this season, took 19 wickets in nine matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Learning experience

“The big gain is that IPL gives you a certain kind of confidence. Most of the players in this league are internationals. When we play with them, we gain in confidence and experience. If you want to get ready for the international level, then IPL is just the right thing,” said Saini who feels the stint with bottom-placed RCB was important as he gained a lot from bowling coach Ashish Nehra.

“Ashish bhaiyya helped me recognise my strength and taught me everything—like what I have to plan and how to back my strengths. Like I bowl back of the length, I have to back it.”

Saini, who plays Ranji Trophy for Delhi, says being captained by Virat Kohli at RCB helped in gaining confidence. “Virat’s backing ensured I improved as a cricketer,” Saini added.

Also Read: Axar, Rayudu possible replacements for Jadhav if needed

India’s struggles

Rajasthan’s Khaleel, on the other hand, belongs to a rare breed of Indian fast bowlers. He is a left-armer and after producing quite a few in the last decade, India have struggled to find a solid left-arm pacer in this decade.

India’s last big ODI tournament in England, the Champions Trophy in 2017, saw them succumb to the left-arm pace of Pakistan’s Mohammed Amir in the final.

“A left-arm pace bowler is an asset for any team. A different angle is created for batsmen which is difficult to pick as batsmen do not play them very often. Whenever a batsman practices, even if it is against a bowling machine, he sets himself up against a right-arm pace bowler. So that is why batsmen have to practice separately to prepare for a left-armer’s angle,” said Khaleel who has played eight ODIs and nine T20 Internationals for India so far.

Go flat out

Both Khaleel and Saini said bowling at the nets is an opportunity to test themselves against the best and they will attack the batsmen and go for wickets.

“It is a big thing that I am going to help the Indian players practice for a big tournament like the World Cup. I am not thinking of playing for India or in future at the moment. Whatever chances I get, I’ll focus on that. Like I have been taken to England as a net bowler and so I’ll focus on that. Our focus will be to get the batsmen out,” said Saini who is yet to play an international but has represented the country at the ‘A’ level.

Get the big ones

Khaleel added: “I feel I am a wicket-taking bowler. My plan (for the nets at World Cup) is to get rid of batsmen like Virat bhai, Mahi bhai, Rohit bhai and other good batsmen. I hope to get them out in the nets and improve my skill level. When you bowl at good batsmen, your skill level automatically improves. To get good batsmen out is a challenge and I’ll try to take on that challenge everyday at the nets.

“If I do well, I can get a chance to play the World Cup, who knows? I am ready. Till then, I have to keep polishing my skills.”

The left-arm pace bowler says he has worked on the incoming delivery (to the right-handed batsmen) over the past few months. “I used to bowl the away going delivery but I felt I needed to improve on the incoming delivery which I did. It works as a surprise element,” Khaleel said.

First Published: May 17, 2019 08:44 IST

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