Dubai: As the time for the crunch Asia Cup game between India and Pakistan draws near, the discussion raging is whether rookie pacer Khaleel Ahmed should be included in the playing XI Wednesday. Khaleel impressed everyone with his ability in the match against Hong Kong claiming three wickets. More importantly he bowled when Hong Kong were coasting along and never allowed the pressure to get to him.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar is of the opinion that in spite of his inexperience, India should persist with Khaleel. “Bowling round the wicket is an art and the 20-year left-armer has shown that he can do it with aplomb. At such an age to perform under pressure is not easy and Khaleel has shown that he has it in him to face crunch times. When you have the talent, why not use him,” Gavaskar said Tuesday after watching the bowler.
Indo-Pak cricket rivalry always evokes tremendous emotion and some experts are however, a bit apprehensive about blooding the youngster so early in his career ‘in the cauldron of fire’.
“I would ideally want to see experienced players in the India-Pakistan game,” said former Pakistan opener Rameez Raja. “I am also very impressed by Khaleel, but I doubt whether he will be able to hand the pressure that comes along with the India-Pakistan matches. It is huge and if he flounders, it will have a massive impact on his career and psyche. Ideally, I would like to see him play 15-20 ODIs before being inducted into the Indo-Pak cauldron of fire.”
Former England batsman Kevin Pitersen, however, is of the opinion that India should use Khaleel against Pakistan. “First of all he is still an unknown entity, not many videos have been made on his bowling. So the surprise factor may work in his and India’s favour,” said KP as he is popularly known.
“If you are talented it will show through. Yes, he can get hit, but no one will blame him… but at the same time if Khaleel is successful, then it will be a major boost for him and India will get another pacer,” added the Englishman.
Chances are however, bright for the youngster to be included in the playing XI. With Shardul Thakur going for 40-plus runs in four overs in the game against Hong Kong and Bhuvneshwar Kumar looking rusty after returning from an injury lay-off, India will certainly look to Khaleel to deliver once more.