Avesh Khan had made one rear off a length and hurried MS Dhoni. His next delivery also cramped the former India captain for room. Dhoni was impressed. Khan was one of the net bowlers, assisting the Indian Asia Cup squad in Dubai. He was going full tilt at the ICC Academy nets. After his batting stint, Dhoni stood near the bowlers’ run-up, keeping a close watch on Khan. Words of wisdom followed. Khan recounted it at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. It was about learning the art of bowling on flat decks from an icon.
“I was bowling with the conventional grips for outswing and inswing. Mahi bhai was watching and he told me to bowl with a scrambled seam on wickets that didn’t offer much help to fast bowlers. He explained it thoroughly that on docile pitches if the ball lands on the seam there would be little seam movement. But if leather hits the deck, the ball might stop a bit and the batsman could mistime and hit it in the air.
“He (Dhoni) also said on pitches that didn’t assist fast bowlers, focus should be on dismissals like bowled, leg-before and catches in cover and mid-wicket. Caught behind or catches to slips would rarely happen. He advised me to hit consistently on a particular area and the importance of bowling dots balls to put pressure on the batsmen,” Khan said.
The young fast bowler is here with the Madhya Pradesh team to play the Ranji Trophy match against Bengal starting tomorrow. The Eden pitch, however, has enough grass to offer seam movement. There’s also the early winter nip in the air and the seamers would rely on conventional swing upfront. But following his stint with the Indian team, albeit as a net bowler, Khan now dares to dream big.
It has been a steady progress for the 21-year-old from Indore since he became India’s highest wicket-taker (12 scalps) at the 2016 U-19 World Cup. There he had the privilege to have Rahul Dravid as his coach.
“We were fortunate to have Rahul sir. The real education was the meeting that he had with us after we lost the final. ‘This is not a very big thing. In fact, hard work begins now,’ Rahul sir had said. The meeting taught us about the importance of putting things in perspective,” Khan recalled.
He had Khaleel Ahmed as his team mate in that U-19 World Cup squad. With only three wickets from six matches, Ahmed didn’t have a good tournament. They were good mates but while Khan seemed to have a head start, it’s Ahmed who has made it big first.
Khan doesn’t mind playing catch-up. “Pace is my strength and I will never compromise on that. Now I’m working hard on my yorkers, bouncers and slower deliveries. These are important weapons in the IPL,” he said. For now, the youngster is looking forward to a good Ranji season, as he aspires to crack the top-level at the soonest.