After a successful outing in the 2015 World Cup, where India seamers Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami lead the charge by picking 70 wickets in seven games, the duo sizzled away from LOIs, leaving the stage to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
The two bowlers have not disappointed and have been the go-to men for Virat Kohli in all conditions, but their efforts have often been undone by the third pacer, who is prone to gifting away easy runs in important stages of the game.
Over the last few months, players like Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Siddarth Kaul and Barinder Sran along with Shami and Umesh have been given the responsibility of partnering Bhuvi and Bumrah, but their inconsistency left a lot to be desired.
The selectors turned to young star Khaleel Ahmed, who offers the option of bowling left-arm and he impressed straightaway in his debut game against Hong Kong in the Asia Cup. Since then, he has taken 9 wickets in 5 games, averaging 26.11 and has instantly left a mark with his ability to move the ball both ways.
The fact that the Rajasthan bowler sticks to a good length, neither bowling too full nor too short works in his favour, and it was his shrewd bowling that helped him pick up 3 wickets in the fourth ODI against West Indies. He has managed to garner praise from India's bowling coach Bharat Arun, who says it is "exciting" to have the youngster in their squad.
"Khaleel looks a very exciting prospect. He is sharp and has the skills to do well in international cricket," he told reporters after the fourth ODI at Mumbai.
With Bhuvi and Bumrah being the mainstays of the bowling unit, it is imperative that the Indian squad get hold of a consistent seaming wicket-taker, who could reduce the workload on the senior pros.
The two have played 37 and 35 matches since the start of 2017, respectively. Umesh is next in line in the most matches played list, participating in 13 games in the interim. However, his tendency to give away runs in the death has forced the selectors to turn towards the other bowlers, who too have failed to flatter.
With Khaleel's emergence, it is hoped that he can be given an extended run and gain vital exposure in Australia and New Zealand before the tournament in England in June.