Pacer Khaleel has his eyes set on World Cup berth

Guwahati: India’s left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed has his eyes on making the 2019 cricket World Cup squad and wants to impress the team management in the series against the West Indies.

“It’s a good preparation for me for the World Cup. I want to take as many wickets as I can in the ODIs leading up to the World Cup. It will also boost my confidence and I will be under less pressure, if I am picked for the World Cup,” Khaleel said ahead of India’s first ODI against West Indies here on Sunday.

Khaleel made his debut during India’s victorious Asia Cup campaign in Dubai.

India’s World Cup campaign begins on June 5 next year against South Africa.

“I think I became a better bowler with his (Zaheer’s) advice,” the 20-year-old from Rajasthan’s Tonk said.

Khaleel was with the Delhi Daredevils where Zaheer Khan is the mentor.

“I have spent a lot of time with Zaheer bhai during my two-year stint at the Delhi Daredevils. We played in different conditions during IPL and he always kept discussing on how to bowl on different surfaces,” he added.

Khaleel also recalled how nervous he was before his debut against Hong Kong, in which he returned an impressive 3/48.

“I was very nervous (for my debut) as my first tournament happened to be a big tournament like the Asia Cup. There was pressure. But after doing well on debut, I felt I could go further,” Khaleel said after the net session at Assam Cricket Association’s Barsapra Stadium.

Khaleel lauded his seniors in the team, saying they never treated him as a newcomer.

“I never have a feel that I’m a junior in the side. Seniors support me well. Everyone keeps talking to me and boost my confidence,” he said of the good camaraderie in the side, he said.