India pacer Khaleel Ahmed, who has switched teams this season, after being bought by the Capitals in the last player auction is confident that Rishabh Pant can guide the team to the title which has eluded the Delhi franchise across 14 seasons so far.
After spending four seasons with the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Khaleel Ahmed is back with the Delhi franchise, with whom he began his IPL career. The franchise bought the lanky pacer, from Tonk in Rajasthan, for Rs. 5.25 crore in the last auction.
Khaleel began his IPL journey with Delhi Capitals (formerly Delhi Daredevils) where he spent two seasons but didn’t get to play a single game.
Playing for SRH, across four seasons, the attacking left-arm pacer featured in 24 matches and bagged 32 wickets. His best IPL outing was the 2019 edition, in which he played 9 games and claimed 19 wickets.
Khaleel, playing his first match in Delhi a Capitals jersey, returned figures of 2-27 in 4 overs.
TimesofIndia.com caught up with Khaleel before the 2022 edition of the IPL began to talk about Delhi Capitals’ title chances this season, playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad, a reunion with David Warner, DC captain Rishabh Pant and much more…
You started your IPL career with Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) and after playing for four years with Sunrisers Hyderabad you are back with Delhi again…
It is a nice feeling. I started my IPL journey with Delhi. Delhi trusted me. They know me very well. They know how talented I am and that I can deliver at any point in time. I am so happy to be back in the Delhi side because it was the first team for me in the IPL. When I wore a Delhi jersey for the first time, I was so happy. It was like a dream come true for me. I am really excited to play for Delhi again. I know Rishabh personally. He is my age and we played cricket together and started our careers almost at the same time. When you know your captain, you can plan things better with him. He is a talented captain and player. I am really excited about the reunion with Pant.
What was your experience with Sunrisers Hyderabad like?
I am really thankful to the Sunrisers for giving me the platform to perform. They gave me the first opportunity. Whatever wickets I have taken in my IPL career, all belong to them. Delhi Capitals is now a new journey for me. I got a lot of love and affection from the Sunrisers and their fans. I want to thank every single person involved. The year 2019 was a memorable one for me with SRH, as I claimed 19 wickets in 9 matches in the season. I was injured in the first half, but in the latter stage of the tournament I was at my best.
Are you excited about a reunion with David Warner, who has also moved from SRH to DC?
I am really looking forward to meeting him again and talking to him. I have spent a lot of time with him at the Sunrisers camp. We share a good bond. I can help him in making reels (laughs). I can hold the camera for him (laughs). Coming to Delhi Capitals feels like going back home.
What’s your take on Delhi Capitals’ bowling attack?
When I saw the squad, it really impressed me. DC have got a strong bowling attack. There is a combination of left and right arm pacers in the squad. This will play a huge role in the team’s success. We are all different types of bowlers. Mustafizur (Rahman) is different, Chetan (Sakariya) is different, (Anrich) Nortje is different and I have also got different variations. We all can learn a lot from each other too.
How would you rate Delhi Capitals’ title chances this time?
I am confident Delhi Capitals will win their maiden title this time. Rishabh is a talented captain and has been doing really well for Delhi. I am sure Rishabh will lead Delhi to their maiden title win.
Do you see IPL 2022 as a stepping stone for you to make it back to the Indian team?
I have worked a lot on my bowling – both in red and white ball cricket. I am in better shape now. I am a much better bowler now. I am bowling 140 kmph plus consistently. I have worked a lot on swing bowling. I think I can serve India for 10-12 years and I am raring to go. I know where I stand. I am prepared. You will see a different Khaleel this time in the IPL and for India in the future.
The wait for a quality left-arm pacer still continues for the Indian team. Do you think you can make a comeback and fill that void?
Hundred percent. I am just 24 and bowling over 140. I can swing the ball also. I am sure I can serve Indian cricket for a long time. I just need to be fit and confident. If I get the chance, you will see a different Khaleel Ahmed.