Avesh Khan, who is currently the second highest wicket-taker in IPL 2021, believes ‘budding players’ get a huge boost in confidence if they are picked from the very first game of the season, owing to the assurance a fixed spot in the XI gives them. The 24-year-old had previously only played 9 matches across four IPL seasons, but in IPL 2021 has featured in all 15 matches for Delhi Capitals.
One of the breakthrough stars of the tournament, Avesh revealed that the trust shown by the DC management has played a huge part in his rise.
“For a budding player, if you are getting to play from the first match, the confidence is different because you are one of the main players in the team,” Avesh told ESPNCricinfo.
“You are then not playing to make a spot for yourself but to make the team win. You are playing to perform because if you perform and the team wins then personally it is good for you for future matches.
“The budding players who want to play for India look at the IPL as a doorway. So this year, having got the opportunity in every game has given me added confidence. Every year I would prepare with the mindset that I would play from the first match, but unfortunately I did not get chances. Last two years I got one match each.
“This season [Kagiso] Rabada and [Anrich] Nortje were not available for the first two matches and Ishant [Sharma] bhai was injured. Then Rishabh [Pant] trusted me, so my aim was, if I am getting a chance from the first match, I should grab it wholeheartedly, and bring out a performance which will help the team win.”
The right-armer has taken 23 wickets in 15 matches this season, but what has been impressive is how he’s been Delhi’s go-to man in nearly every phase. Someone not a regular in the Capitals side until this season, Avesh has quite remarkably bowled the 20th over seven times this season, with him succeeding on a vast majority of those occasions.
Things could go awry for bowlers whilst bowling at the death, but Avesh revealed that he always has plans in place for each batter, and also tends to chat a lot with skipper Rishabh Pant. This camaraderie and understanding, he revealed, has helped him excel in the back half of games.
“It is good for me that the team management, especially Rishabh, has belief in me. I give full credit to him.
“Our plans are very clear. For example, if I want to bowl a stump yorker at Rayudu bhai, he might refuse and say, ‘Bowl wide yorkers.’ I don't argue with him. I want to become a flexible bowler who can talk with the captain and listen to him. We have played together since our Under-19 days. We sit together - Rishabh, Axar [Patel] and me - and discuss matches late into the night.
“From behind the wicket he makes a signal and I understand what he wants and then I focus on executing the ball. Our conversations are very clear. All this is not visible on TV. When I stand at the top of my run-up I look at him, not the batsman. What he [Pant] is thinking, what ball he wants me to deliver. If he says nothing, I go with the ball I want.”
The 24-year-old has had many an impressive showing this season, but a standout spell came in Sharjah against Mumbai, where he returned astonishing figures of 3/15 off his four overs. Avesh picked the wicket of Rohit Sharma up-front, and then did a fine job at the death, picking two more wickets to restrict MI to 129.
One of those wickets was a perfect leg-stump yorker he delivered to Hardik Pandya, and the 24-year-old picked that very wicket as his favorite scalp of IPL 2021.
“Yes, I enjoyed that wicket a lot. When I watch the video, I get a very good feeling - I have bowled a good ball, a yorker. In the first half of this IPL, I was bowling yorkers and giving four-six runs an over, but I was not getting wickets. So when I see a ball that makes an impact - you bowl a yorker and the batsman is bowled - that feel was different,” Avesh said of the Pandya dismissal.