NEW DELHI: Mahendra Singh Dhoni might no longer be India captain, but you can’t take the captain out of MS Dhoni. He is still a leader for most current cricketers, including Virat Kohli, who himself once said “Dhoni will always remain my captain”.
Just after India defeated Bangladesh and clinched the 2018 Asia Cup title, Dhoni walked up to Rohit Sharma, who captained the Men in Blue in the quadrennial event in regular skipper Virat Kohli’s absence, and asked him to give the youngest member of the squad, newcomer Khaleel Ahmed, the opportunity to hold the trophy. And that’s the picture that was splashed across newspapers and online publications.
Khaleel, who had earned a maiden call-up to the Indian side for the Asia Cup, was seen holding the winning trophy on the dais along with his team-mates. Dhoni’s decision of making the newest member of the team hold the winning trophy won many hearts.
“Dhoni bhai asked Rohit Sharma to let me hold the trophy on the dais. He gave me the trophy because I was the youngest member in the team and it was my debut series. It was a memorable experience for me,” Khaleel told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.
“When Dhoni bhai and Rohit asked me to hold the winning trophy, I had no words. I became emotional and will never forget that moment,” the youngster said.
The 20-year-old left-arm fast bowler from Tonk in Rajasthan played two matches in the Asia Cup – against Hong Kong and Afghanistan.
Playing his debut ODI match against Hong Kong, the young pacer claimed three wickets, conceding 48 runs.
Former India skipper Dhoni is often seen advising and guiding youngsters on the field. And he had some words of advice for Khaleel as well, when the bowler was being taken to the cleaners in his maiden international appearance.
“After we posted 259 against Hong Hong, their openers got off to a brilliant start. A 150-run opening stand was something we didn’t expect. They were hammering me. I had tried almost everything but nothing was working out.” Khaleel said.
“Dhoni walked up to me and said ‘ pace maintain kar ke rakh aur thoda aage daal’ (maintain your pace and bowl a bit forward). I tried it twice and it worked for me. Finally, I managed to break the opening stand. We all are lucky to have Dhoni in the team,” an elated Khaleel told TimesofIndia.com.
For Khaleel, the Asia Cup is just the beginning and the youngster is now targeting the home series (ODI and T20Is) against the West Indies.
“I am happy with the way I performed in the Asia Cup. I hope to play against West Indies at home. Hope I have impressed the selectors. I am excited to play under Virat Kohli,” the 20-year-old added.
Khaleel is an ardent admirer of former India speedster Zaheer Khan and wants to follow in his footsteps. The Rajasthan lad spent one entire IPL season with Zaheer in the Delhi Daredevils camp in 2016.
“Whenever I needed any advice and tips, Zaheer bhai was always there. Whenever I meet him, I carry a diary with me. I write everything, whatever he tells me. When he is not available, this diary helps me a lot,” Khaleel signed off. Source : timesofindia