Exclusive: Avesh Khan speaks about getting picked as reserve pacer for ICC World Cup 2019

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAritra Mukherjee
Apr 19, 2019 02:20 PM IST

Avesh Khan and three other talented fast bowlers – Navdeep Saini, Khaleel Ahmed and Deepak Chahar – will travel to England in about a month’s time as net bowlers in India’s World Cup squad.

It is unusual that someone who has never got an India call-up in any format of the game is being treated as one of the possible reserves of the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and that too in the ODI World Cup. Then again, Avesh Khan’s story has been anything but usual so far.

File image of Avesh Khan (R) celebrating with teammates after the fall of a wicket.(AFP/Getty Images)
File image of Avesh Khan (R) celebrating with teammates after the fall of a wicket.(AFP/Getty Images)

From struggling to make ends meet when his father’s Paan shop was trashed not too long ago to break into the India A side last year in October, Avesh has seen it all. But the real breakthrough came this Monday when it was announced that Avesh and three other talented fast bowlers – Navdeep Saini, Khaleel Ahmed and Deepak Chahar – will travel to England in about a month’s time with Kohli & Co. as net bowlers in India’s World Cup squad. Needless to say, one among the four could find themselves in the main squad of 15 if any of India’s three main fast bowlers pick-up an injury in the two-month long high-pressure tournament. Saini of course will be the first-choice as he was named as a stand-by.

Also Read: Khaleel, Saini, Chahar, Avesh to be India’s net bowlers in World Cup

Among the 19 Indian cricketers travelling to England, Avesh’s name was the least expected. And there are reasons for that. Avesh is the only member who has never been a part of the senior Indian side and has been spending the major part of IPL 2019 in the sidelines, playing only one match for Delhi Capitals – the least in India’s World Cup squad including the net bowlers.

Then how did he manage to get named among the reserves in the first place? Avesh Khan’s selection as a net bowler in India’s World Cup squad is a prime example of the selection committee’s claims of IPL performance not being a criteria.

Also Read: ICC World Cup 2019: India’s reserves for showpiece event revealed

The 22-year-old himself doesn’t give much weightage to IPL performance and instead wants to focus on domestic cricket. “Ranji Trophy has always been my target. My focus has been to do well in domestic cricket. It’s not that I don’t want to play the IPL but domestic cricket is more important,” Avesh told Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat.

The numbers back Avesh’s claims. He might have played only 8 IPL games – 1 for RCB(2017) and 7 for Delhi Capitals (2018,2019) – but he has been a stellar performer in domestic cricket. He was in fact Madhya Pradesh’s leading wicket-taker with 35 scalps to his name at an average of 16 in the last Ranji Trophy season. Avesh picked up 18 wickets in the two outright wins Madhya Pradesh claimed this season.

“Our first-class cricket is very competitive, it gives a tough challenge to any cricketer and that’s why it’s important to perform here,” said Avesh.

Avesh was drafted into the India A side for the warm-up game against West Indies at Vadodara where he carried his Ranji form, picking up four wickets. “Playing for India A is always a huge learning curve. You get to learn a lot. The international batsmen play fast bowling a lot better,” Avesh added.

Also Read: Brett Lee reveals why he is impressed with young Indian pacers

Known for extracting pace and bounce because of his tall stature, Avesh believes that the yorker and length variation could be his USP going ahead in places like England.

“I always want to be a wicket-taker for my team and for that I think I need to create the right balance between yorker and bouncers in white ball cricket. I think the length that I bowl creates problems for batsmen,” Avesh quipped.

Like any other junior Indian cricketer, Avesh gave a lot of credit to India A and U-19 coach Rahul Dravid. “Rahul sir always asks me to concentrate on the mental aspects of the game. He was a batsman and he tells me the mental approach of a batsman.

“He always tells me to keep the batsman under pressure. I always get motivated whenever I speak to him,” Avesh signed off.

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    Aritra Mukherjee, who happens to be a journalist, is in an eternal relationship with food and sleep. He can, however, sacrifice both or at least the latter for his love-affair with cricket. 'He said,' 'he added,' 'he signed off' are some of his favourite phrases. When not juggling between food, sleep and cricket, he wastes time by surfing OTT platforms.

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