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Every day felt like a battle: Khaleel Ahmed on long-awaited return to India colours

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Khaleel Ahmed

Delhi Capitals' pacer Khaleel Ahmed

Bengaluru: Making a long-awaited return to India colours, Delhi Capitals' pacer Khaleel Ahmed said the last four and a half years had been a tough mental battle for him as he missed playing for the country.

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The 26-year-old left-arm pacer earned a spot as a standby for the upcoming T20 World Cup, riding on his sensational show for DC in this IPL. He has picked up 14 wickets in 12 matches thus far.

Khaleel said he saw the India call-up coming his way.

"The way the past few months were going and the way the IPL started, I had the intuition that something good would happen," he said while speaking on DC Podcast.

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"As the IPL matches progressed, my confidence continued to grow. I realised I was bowling well, and it has always been about moving one step ahead. Finally, when the name came, I was so happy, and it's a step ahead for me." Khaleel played 11 ODIs and 14 T20Is for India, claiming 15 and 13 wickets. His last appearance for India was a T20 match against Bangladesh at Nagpur in November, 2019.

"2019 was a long time ago. Every day, at the back of my mind, I missed that feeling of playing for the country," Khaleel said.

"Every time I used to watch India play, I used to imagine what I would have done if I was there in the team. So, every day was like a battle and these kinds of conversations were going on inside my head." Khaleel said he took just a week's break after the last IPL and played all the domestic matches.

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"It's tough as a fast bowler, but I made up my mind that irrespective of what happens to me, I'm going to play all the matches. I pushed myself mentally in the past year and have grown with it.

"Mentally, you just have to fight for it, day, night or any time, because my life has always been about cricket. My thoughts have only been about cricket, nothing else bothers me," he added.

IPL 2024 has been a nightmare for bowlers but Khaleel feels "this is the best moment for the fast bowlers to come to light." "If a bowler performs in tough situations like these, he will be considered a King, and I want to be that King. So, this is what my mentality has been about the current scenario," he said.

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