IPL memories: Khaleel Ahmed – From bylanes of Tonk to corridors of IPL fame

Khaleel Ahmed’s introduction to India’s most lucrative sporting league dates back to 2016 when the Delhi Daredevils acquired the left-arm pacer for ₹10 lakh. However, for two seasons, securing a spot in the final eleven proved elusive.

Undeterred, Khaleel persisted, confident that his dedication would eventually grant him the opportunity to showcase his skills before an enthusiastic crowd.

Fast forward to January 2018, and the IPL auction room in Bengaluru witnessed a pivotal moment.

Richard Madley’s resonant voice declared, “Sold for three hundred (₹3 crore). Thank you, Sunrisers Hyderabad.”

The ceremonial mallet had made its decisive strike.

In Tonk, a city 95 km south of Jaipur, jubilation erupted at the Blair Cricket Academy as news of Khaleel’s inclusion in a new IPL side spread.

Among those celebrating, none was happier than Imtiyaz Ali Khan, the astute talent scout who had recognised Khaleel’s potential years earlier.

Expressing gratitude upon his return to the village, Khaleel went beyond words, making a meaningful gesture.

Imtiyaz recalls, “The moment Khaleel got the contract, he got me a 56-inch LED TV. A coach should always extend his hand for giving and not taking.”

Clarifying his gesture, Khaleel stated, “This is not a gift. This is just to watch me play on the big screen.”

Despite gaining international recognition with the coveted India cap during the 2018 Asia Cup, Khaleel remains a down-to-earth person, according to Imtiyaz.

There were challenges along the way, including setbacks in the IPL and exclusion from the national team in 2019.

But his triumphant return to the Delhi franchise (now Capitals) in 2022, claiming 16 wickets in 10 games, highlighted his prowess.

In the subsequent edition, Khaleel secured nine wickets from as many games, leading to DC’s decision to retain him for IPL 2024.

Imtiyaz reflects, “Perhaps the best thing about Khaleel is his never-say-die attitude. He never stops believing.”

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