On the back of a spectacular Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy season in which he picked up 14 wickets in just five games, the Madhya Pradesh-born pacer walked into the Delhi Capitals playing XI ahead of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. Avesh immediately made an impression, playing under his former U-19 teammate Rishabh Pant, and surged to second on the IPL 2021 Purple Cap list.
Avesh Khan’s form and fitness have consistently been on the rise since his U-19 World Cup, which was way back in 2016. He seems ready for the step up to the international stage, and was recently named as a reserve bowler for India’s Test tour of England and the World Test Championship final.
Here are 3 reasons why Avesh Khan needs to be in India’s squad – or even the playing XI – for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
#3 India’s premier pace bowlers had disappointing IPL 2021 campaigns
India’s riches in the pace-bowling department have won them a number of games over the last few years across formats. But IPL 2021, which assisted the pacers more than the spinners, saw a number of national team quicks fail to impress.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up only three wickets while leaking runs at an economy rate of over 9, failing to carry his England form into the tournament and even suffering a thigh strain that caused him to miss two games. Shardul Thakur was even more expensive with an economy rate of over 10, and scalped only five wickets.
T Natarajan struggled with a knee injury that he later underwent surgery for, while Mohammed Shami and Prasidh Krishna took eight wickets each but weren’t as consistent as they’d have liked. Navdeep Saini bowled only two overs in IPL 2021, and Deepak Chahar went wicketless in five of the seven games he played.
Avesh Khan, meanwhile, was the star of the show for the Delhi Capitals. With 14 wickets in seven games at an economy rate of 7.7, he was the lead pacer for the franchise ahead of even Kagiso Rabada.
Avesh was closing in on Harshal Patel, who had held the Purple Cap right from the opening match of the tournament. He had a breakthrough IPL 2021 season that should earn him a maiden call-up to the Indian T20I side.
#2 Avesh Khan has all the attributes to succeed at the highest level
The standout feature of Avesh Khan’s IPL 2021 campaign was his versatility, as he was used at various stages of the innings by Pant.
In the Capitals’ tournament opener against the Chennai Super Kings, Avesh was handed the new ball and immediately sent back Faf du Plessis with a beautiful inswinger. And soon, the pacer was a staple of his team’s death-bowling plans, and was brought on in the middle overs whenever a wicket was needed as well.
Avesh Khan seems to have all the attributes to succeed at the highest level – he’s a complete package. His fastest ball in IPL 2021 was just short of 146 kmph, showing that he has real pace. He bowled a number of deceptive slower balls, and nailed yorkers unerringly at the death.
With pace, swing and variations coupled with accuracy, Avesh Khan has a well-stocked toolbox that is essential for any international bowler in this day and age.
#1 The experience of playing in an ICC tournament would greatly help Avesh Khan
Avesh Khan has age on his side. The 24-year-old is still a few years away from reaching his prime as a fast bowler, and this seems like the perfect time to introduce him to the rigors of international cricket – in the T20 format at least.
Avesh’s fitness has improved considerably since his U-19 days, and his coaches have been quick to recognize that fact. A debut in the shortest format of the game will set him up for bigger and better things, and will also give him the chance to go through the experience of playing in an ICC tournament.
India need to plan ahead for the 2023 World Cup, and blooding the next generation of players will be one of the first points on their agenda. Avesh Khan could be among those chosen to herald a new era in Indian cricket.