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EXCLUSIVE! ‘One step closer to dream of representing India,’ Avesh Khan on his breakthrough season and more

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Team Delhi speedster Avesh Khan has become one of the most promising emerging bowling talents after his exploits in the now-suspended Indian T20 League 2021

With 14 wickets in eight matches, Avesh was second on the wicket-taking charts in the tournament and was garnering applause from all quarters. His performances were rewarded by being named a standby on the Indian Cricket Team’s tour to England. A regular as a net bowler on foreign tours, Khan has now taken a step closer towards his final goal.

In this exclusive interview with SportsAdda, the fast bowler opened up on his equation with Ishant Sharma, plotting MS Dhoni’s wicket alongside Rishabh Pant, the pep talks with Ricky Ponting, and his ultimate dream.

What does the call-up as a standby for the Test team mean to you?

It feels like being one step closer to the dream. It is the dream of every young cricketer to play Test cricket for India. I am in the stand-by now and if an opportunity arises, I am prepared to give my best. I am excited to give my 100 per cent in the nets and practice matches and maintain the rhythm that I already am in.

From being a net bowler in India's home series against England to being a part of a squad – what personal effort did you put in to make this happen?

I had a lot of talk with Ishant (Sharma) bhai regarding red-ball cricket. There was not much red-ball cricket happening due to the domestic season being cancelled so now I can implement that in my bowling in England. I also learn from Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav. The seniors in the camp are quite good and provide perfect guidance whenever required - be it on swing, grip, or rhythm. These are experienced people who have played a lot of cricket and it feels nice to continuously learn from them. I am very close to Ishant bhai particularly since this is my third year with him at Delhi and I really enjoy his company.

In this period, did you make any technical changes in your action or bowling regimen?

I did not try to do anything special, nor have I changed my action. The way it was going, it was all fine. I just worked on bowling in the right areas. Ishant bhai also taught me about his good lengths and how to set the batsmen up. These are the things that I will try to implement in the nets in the England series.

Any special interaction with Virat that you can think of?

I had a talk with Virat (Kohli) bhai after our match against Bangalore (in Indian T20 League 2021) and he told me that I am bowling well and fast and asked me to continue doing that.

What was the exact moment when you were informed that you are going to start the first few matches for Delhi?

I was told to be ready a week before that I was going to play from the first match, so my mentality was that yahi saal mera breakthrough season hoga (this will be my breakthrough season). As a young player you get a lot of confidence if you start from the first match. Generally, the experienced players start in the first few matches so one does not get enough opportunities. I got the opportunity to perform well right from the start till the first half of the tournament, so it feels great.

What role did Ricky Ponting play this season in your development?

Ricky Ponting has helped me a lot mentally because as a coach if you push your budding player to do well and give him the confidence that he can play for India, it is a great feeling. He used to appreciate me after every match and talked about my improvement. He told me that I have given a good result after being here for four years. It feels great that I can perform for the team who has supported me for so long. He used to search for positives and pointed out the right mistakes to be taken care of. The lesser you make mistakes, the more you can win matches for the team.

You have been playing with Rishabh Pant since the U-19 World Cup in 2016. Does he understand you better than other bowlers?

Ishan Kishan was our captain in the Under-19s and I am good friends with him but I have been playing with Pant since four years at Delhi so I have a strong bonding with him. I stayed with him and Axar Patel in our Delhi camp. He was the captain this year, so things were quite clear on the field. When we used to sit together, I used to tell him that if you find anything to implement in my bowling, tell me from behind the wickets only. This way we have developed good coordination and communicated with our eyes only without the opposition realizing anything.

Any wicket or two that both of you plotted?

In the match against Chennai, Pant asked me to bowl to Mahi bhai (MS Dhoni) with a mid-on and mid-off inside the circle. He was fine with me conceding a six instead of giving away a single. Later, he tried to go for a big shot and inside edged on to the stumps. He is absolutely a bowler’s captain. He gives the desired fields to his bowlers and gives them complete freedom to execute their plans. This is also the reason we performed so well as a bowling unit this year.

Bowling in the powerplay and at the death, how did it feel to be assigned such a responsibility?

I do not have a certain preference as such. It all depends on what the team needs from me. In some matches, I have bowled two overs in the powerplay, one in the middle, and one in the slog. Against Punjab, I bowled my first over which was the 10th over of the innings. So, I just follow my responsibility and do not pre-plan when I am going to bowl. I just try to bowl well and take wickets and keep my team on course in the match.

What do you have to say about Delhi’s management who treats their players as family?

The Delhi family has supported me a lot. The owners changed in between but they have all taken very good care of the players and their requirements. They have invested in me in the last three years, and they would also be happy that I could pay them back with my performances on the field.

Who gave you the best advice for mental well-being?

Pant has been very supportive in this case. Every player is nervous before batting or bowling the first ball. Rishabh told me to control the nervousness and bowl bindaas and not worry about the runs. Run khaane ka tarika sahi hona chaiye (Concede runs in the proper manner). He has backed me a lot this year and I also responded by bowling well. It felt great that we were able to win six out of eight matches this year.

What is your cricketing dream, 10 years from now?

In 10 years, I see myself making my debut for India as soon as possible and serving the country by playing as many Test matches possible. The effort will always be to keep performing to make the country win.

Written by : Saumin Parmar

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Featured image : Instagram / Avesh Khan 

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