Rohit bhai asked me to bowl ‘bindaas’ after 1st T20I against New Zealand: Khaleel Ahmed
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Rohit bhai asked me to bowl ‘bindaas’ after 1st T20I against New Zealand: Khaleel Ahmed

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Khaleel revealed how Rohit Sharma was the man behind his strong comeback in the recently concluded T20I series against New Zealand.

cricket Updated: Feb 14, 2019 11:01 IST
Baidurjo Bhose
Baidurjo Bhose
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
india vs new zealand,rohit sharma,khaleel ahmed
Khaleel Ahmed was the among the most successful Indian bowlers in the T20I series against New Zealand with four wickets from 3 games.(AFP)

Figures of 1/48 from four overs at the end of the first T20I between India and New Zealand in Wellington wasn’t the start to the series that young pacer Khaleel Ahmed was looking at. In fact, pundits were of the opinion that he might find it difficult to make it to the playing XI for the second game in Auckland. But what followed was figures of 2/27 as he impressed one and all with his ability to come back with a vengeance.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Khaleel revealed how Rohit Sharma was the man behind his strong comeback in the T20I series. Speaking to the youngster, Rohit not only asked him to relax, but also gave the left-arm pacer the perspective on how to approach batsmen in the shortest format of the game.

“Rohit bhai spoke to me after the first match. He discussed where I was going wrong and explained to me the perspective of a batsman when he comes to the crease in a T20 game. He spoke on how I should prepare to take on the batsmen who are looking to attack from the word go. He spoke about the mindset of different batsmen and also how I should set specific fields for each opposition batsman. He really guided me a lot and most importantly asked me to bowl bindaas (carefree) and back my strength.

“Rohit bhai has played so many matches and when someone like him guides you, you know how to go about the job. After all, he is one of the most destructive batsmen in the shorter formats of the game. Him coming forward and sharing that experience helped a lot as I realised that I should not take any undue pressure just because the batsmen are looking to attack every ball,” he explained.

Commenting on the mood going into his first tour of New Zealand, Khaleel said: “Was very excited about playing in New Zealand as I had heard that there is good bounce and the breeze helps the fast bowlers. I was really looking forward to playing in conditions that favour swing bowling.”

The chat with Rohit changed Khaleel’s approach completely as he walked onto the field in the second game. “After the first game I was a bit nervous since it didn’t go as per plan. But after speaking to Rohit bhai, I gained in confidence and realized that it was important to not overthink and bowl to my strength. So I followed the advice and bowled bindaas (carefree). I thought that there was no point being over cautious in my approach as T20 is anyway a batsman’s game. Backed myself and that helped as I started to pitch the slower ones and the yorkers in the right areas,” he said.

The biggest takeaway for Khaleel after the T20I series against New Zealand was the confidence that the team management showed in him by giving him the ball in the death overs.

“I think it was a great feeling when they felt I am talented enough to bowl in the death. This team management realizes that youngsters need that confidence. It has been a dream to interact with the likes of Rohit bhai, Virat bhai (Kohli) and MS Dhoni. I think cricket is as much a mental game as it is of skills. You need to handle pressure and I think they felt I can do that. I was given the ball in the death as they felt that I will be able to handle the pressure at the end of the innings when the batsmen are looking to hit every ball out of the park. This has made me feel more confident as it isn’t a small thing when the team backs you in these situations. Juniors are always backed by the team,” he signed off.

First Published: Feb 13, 2019 15:56 IST