Khaleel Ahmed may have represented India in 11 ODIs and 14 T20Is but he has already played under the leadership of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
The 22-year-old left-arm fast bowler, Khaleel made his international debut against Hong Kong under the leadership of Rohit Sharma in the 2018 Asia Cup. The southpaw played two matches in the tournament and his second game came under the leadership of MS Dhoni when both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan decided to bench themselves against Afghanistan.
Ahmed then earned a call-up for the limited-overs series against the West Indies, where he played under Virat Kohli. Khaleel recently compared the leadership styles of both Virat and Rohit. According to the Rajasthan-born fast bowler, both Virat and Rohit back their players to the hilt but their demeneour is completely different. While Virat is very aggressive, Rohit Sharma remains cool as a cucumber in pressure situations.
‘Both Virat bhai and Rohit bhai are different types of captains. Virat bhai is very aggressive. If a batsman hits you for a boundary or six, he will come, show confidence in you and tell you to bowl a bouncer. He will inject energy in you with his aggression,” Khaleel Ahmed told Times of India.
“On the other hand, Rohit bhai remains calm. He will come and give you confidence. He will give you the freedom and say you are playing an international match, you know better what to bowl, now go and bowl and dismiss him. I am also aggressive so I love to play under Virat bhai,” he added.
‘Don’t take pressure’- Khaleel Ahmed recalls Virat Kohli’s words after he endured a forgettable outing against Australia in 2019
On the back of impressive performances against the West Indies, Khaleel earned a call-up for the white-ball leg of the Australian tour in the winter of 2018-19. And, while he was impressive in T20Is, he had a tough outing in his very first ODI in Australia as he leaked 55 runs in eight overs.
Khaleel reminisced about how Virat Kohli motivated him to emulate what he has been doing in the nets following India’s 34-run defeat. Khaleel, however, did not get a game in the series post the first ODI as India went on to win the rubber 2-1.
”Virat bhai came to me after that match and said “Khallu, bowl the way you do at nets. Don’t take pressure. You will go a long way,”. He has never scolded me or any player. I didn’t perform well and instead of scolding, he boosted my confidence. He is a champion player and that’s how he treats every player in the team,” Khaleel Ahmed recalled.
Khaleel’s last international outing for India came against Bangladesh last home summer, post which he was dropped from the set-up. Ahmed was the leading wicket-taker for SRH last season and he will be hoping to once again emulate his feats and regain his spot back in the Indian team.