IPL 2021: Kane Williamson, Rashid Khan will be key players for Sunrisers Hyderabad this season, says Khaleel Ahmed | Cricket News

2021-04-07 08:14:23

NEW DELHI: Sunrisers Hyderabad have so far managed to get their hands on the coveted IPL trophy just once – in 2016 under David Warner‘s captaincy, defeating Royal Challengers Bangalore in the summit clash.
The Sunrisers reached the final of the 2018 edition, but lost to MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings by 8 wickets. Sunrisers are now set for their ninth appearance in the cash-rich league and India and Sunrisers’ left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed is confident that captain Warner will propel the team to their second title this time.
“I am sure we can win the title this time. SRH will hope for a solid start from Warner and Bairstow. They can demolish any bowling attack in the world. We have Kane Williamson who is the best at playing spin bowlers. He is the best overseas player of spin. Kane will play a key role for SRH this season. I would pick Kane Williamson and Rashid Khan as the two players who can change the Sunrisers’ fortunes. They are so talented. Give Rashid any batsman or give Kane any bowler, they will do the job for Sunrisers,” Khaleel told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.

Kane Williamson and Rashid Khan (IPL Photo)
The Sunrisers finished third after the league stage last season and made the play-offs. The defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Eliminator but then lost to Delhi Capitals by 17 runs in Qualifier 2. For SRH, David Warner was the top run-getter, third overall in the league, in the 2020 edition.

Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan, with 20 wickets in 16 matches, was the highest wicket-taker for Warner’s men.
For Khaleel, playing at home this season after a season in the UAE will be an added advantage for the players and team.
“I am so happy that the tournament is happening in India this time. You feel good when you play at home. We are in quarantine, but the feel-good factor of playing at home is there. I am hoping that fans will be allowed in the latter stage of the tournament. It all depends on the corona cases,” the 23-year-old left-arm medium pacer further told TimesofIndia.com.

Khaleel Ahmed (IPL Photo)
“We (SRH) will be playing on Chennai tracks (in the initial stages). We will have to assess the conditions first. We are going to play five matches initially (in Chennai) and I am hoping that we will get to play more practice games ahead of the tournament. We will get to know how the pitches are behaving, especially in the evening and we will also get to know about the dew factor. It’s not easy to remain in quarantine and then go for practice. You are quarantined for six days in a room and the seventh day you have to hit the ground for practice. The excitement is there but there is also a big chance of sustaining injuries,” Khaleel, who has played 11 ODIs and 14 T20Is for India so far further said.
Sunrisers have added three new faces to their squad. Kedar Jadhav, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and Jagadeesha Suchith will be joining the Sunrisers bandwagon. The team already has the likes of captain Warner, dashing opener Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan, Khaleel Ahmed, Wriddhiman Saha, Manish Pandey, Sandeep Sharma and Jason Holder.

“Bhuvi bhai is an amazing form, Nattu (Natarajan) is doing really well. He bowled a brilliant last over against England. Rashid Khan is there. Mujeeb is there. I am also there. So, the bowling unit is quite strong for SRH in comparison with other teams. We have a strong opener and captain in David Warner, Jonny Bairstow. Jonny and Warner are destructive openers and can give you a solid start. In the middle, we have Kedar bhai, Manish (Pandey), and Kane Williamson. They are all match winners. So, the side is looking strong and are favourites to win the title,” Khaleel said.
Tamil Nadu speedster T Natarajan’s story is nothing short of a fairytale. From being selected as a net bowler to becoming a part of the Indian pacer armoury, Natarajan has come a long way in a very short period of time. The ability to bowl yorkers and to keep it tight in the death overs has seen him consistently be in the reckoning for a spot in the playing XI.
Natarajan, who has played 1 Test, 2 ODIs, and 4 T20Is for India so far, claimed 16 scalps in 16 IPL matches for Sunrisers last season also bowled the maximum number of yorkers (71) and dismissed batsmen like MS Dhoni and AB de Villiers. Khaleel is confident that his compatriot’s form will do wonders for the team.

T Natarajan (IPL Photo)
“The Indian team has got a good bowler in the form of Natarajan. The best thing is that he was mentally prepared. Whatever opportunity came in his way, he grabbed it confidently and performed. People say it is destiny but in the end, it was his performance that mattered the most. He (Natarajan) went there (Australia) as a net bowler but passed all tests with flying colours. I wish him all the best in his career. It was a dream debut for him. He got a lot of support from Virat bhaiya and coach Ravi sir. They have motivated me a lot as well and helped me whenever I needed them. Natarajan is becoming a good bowler with their support,” Khaleel told TimesofIndia.com
Khaleel last played in India colours in November 2019 – a T20I match vs Bangladesh in Nagpur. He has played 11 ODIs and 14 T20Is so far, claiming 15 and 13 wickets respectively in the two formats.
The 23-year-old left-arm pacer is now targeting IPL 2021 as a stepping stone to an India comeback.

Khaleel Ahmed (IPL Photo)
“I worked a lot on my bowling action and also in-swing deliveries. I worked on my fitness as well. You will see different variations this time. I am aiming for a good IPL season. If I have a good IPL season, then I am sure you will see me back in India colours. I want to win as many matches for my team as possible,” the 23 year old from Tonk in Rajasthan further said.
“IPL will decide my place in the Indian team. I have really worked hard and you will see a different Khaleel in the tournament. I am hopeful of making the cut for the T20 World Cup,” Khaleel signed off.

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