Khaleel Ahmed, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar and Avesh Khan, the next generation of Indian fast bowlers, will fly with the India team on May 23 to England for the World Cup beginning May 30.
The young pacers will be the net bowlers who will bowl at the Indian batsmen during training. India’s pace bowling attack for the mega event includes Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami, who will shoulder the responsibility.
Khaleel and Saini will have extra motivation when they bowl at the nets as according to reports, the two have been kept on standby in case of injury to any of the frontline bowlers. This is a reward for their performance in the just-concluded Indian Premier League.
Saini, who played the IPL for the first time this year although he had been part of squads before, picked 11 wickets in 13 matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
"The big gain is that IPL gives you a certain kind of confidence. Most of the players in this league are internationals. When we play with them, we gain in confidence and experience. If you want to get ready for the international level, then IPL is just the right thing," said Saini who feels the stint with bottom-placed RCB was important as he gained a lot from bowling coach Ashish Nehra.
"Ashish bhaiyya helped me recognise my strength and taught me everything like what I have to plan and how to back my strengths. Like I bowl back of the length, I have to back it."
Khaleel, who had played just one IPL game before this season, took 19 wickets in nine matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad. More than his performance in the IPL, it is his style of bowling that should interest people in the selection process.
He is a left-armer and after producing quite a few in the last decade, India have struggled to find a solid left-arm pacer in this decade.
"A left-arm pace bowler is an asset for any team. A different angle is created for batsmen which is difficult to pick as batsmen do not play them very often. Whenever a batsman practices, even if it is against a bowling machine, he sets himself up against a right-arm pace bowler. So that is why batsmen have to practice separately to prepare for a left-armer's angle," said Khaleel who has played eight ODIs and nine T20 Internationals for India so far.
Both Khaleel and Saini said bowling at the nets is an opportunity to test themselves against the best and they will attack the batsmen and go for wickets.
"It is a big thing that I am going to help the Indian players practice for a big tournament like the World Cup. I am not thinking of playing for India or in future at the moment. Whatever chances I get, I'll focus on that. Like I have been taken to England as a net bowler and so I'll focus on that. Our focus will be to get the batsmen out," said Saini who is yet to play an international but has represented the country at the 'A' level.
Khaleel added: "I feel I am a wicket-taking bowler. My plan (for the nets at World Cup) is to get rid of batsmen like Virat bhai, Mahi bhai, Rohit bhai and other good batsmen. I hope to get them out in the nets and improve my skill level. When you bowl at good batsmen, your skill level automatically improves. To get good batsmen out is a challenge and I'll try to take on that challenge everyday at the nets. If I do well, I can get a chance to play the World Cup, who knows? I am ready. Till then, I have to keep polishing my skills."
Chances have to be taken as and when they come. For the two fast bowlers, this is the chance to prove themselves and pray their efforts while bowling at the nets are rewarded as and when the the opportunities arise.