During the early days, prominent cricketers who went on to represent their countries usually hailed from metropolitan cities, namely, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.
However, in recent times, lesser-known states such as Jharkhand, Haryana, and Rajasthan have produced their own stalwarts.
In fact, Rajasthan produced two new gems of fast bowling in the form of Deepak Chahar and Syed Khaleel Ahmed who went to represent the country at the highest level in white-ball cricket.
Coming from a conservative background from a small town called Tonk, Khaleel had to struggle to pursue his dream of donning the national colours.
The ordeals even constituted of Khaleel hiding his ambitions and love for the game in front of his father.
Khaleel’s father, Khursheed Ahmed, who was a compounder by profession, intended his son to concentrate on his studies and look after his four siblings, doing the household chores. Ahmed did not even dare to let his father known about him getting admitted into the academy.
“We come from Tonk, which is a small town in Rajasthan. My father was a compounder, and he was away at work a lot. We were a family of 4 siblings – three elder sisters and then me. Being the youngest son, I was expected to do a lot of small work around the house when my father wasn’t around. But I ran off for practice without telling anyone! It continued even until I was training at the academy. My family didn’t even know I had got admission,” Ahmed told Manish Batavia on Spicy Pitch.
“Like any middle-class parent, I wanted my son to study hard and become a doctor. Being a compounder myself, this was a big dream. But he just wanted to play cricket — nothing else!” Khaleel senior chipped in.
So what led to the change of heart for Khursheed? Khaleel revealed that it was the good reputation earned through performances which circulated through to his father via family friends and coach, which finally made Khursheed believe in his son’s abilities.
“I think when he got selected for Under 19, I started to believe that this might be his future after all finally. Today, of course, we are his biggest supporters — and sometimes critics!” concluded Khaleel’s father.