Playing for four years with hindrances and waiting for six months for good news, could have taken a toll on anyone. But cricketer Ibrahim Khaleel held on to his dream debut in a far away land until recently, when it came true. Ibrahim had moved to the US to be with his wife, who is a doctor there with only cricket on his mind.
Recently, when the squad for the ‘International Cricket Council Americas’ team was announced, Ibrahim was part of it as the wicket keeper-batsman and will soon be representing the US in the upcoming match at Uganda.
Talking about his new cricketing career in the US, Ibrahim says, “The journey to the final team was full of drama. Even though I got through the trials way back in May 2016, the whole process took time. They had lots of criteria to be checked first, like a green card, four years of proven residency and 183 days of continuous stay in the US. Now, all the formalities are done and I am relieved. Even the remuneration is good.”
Interestingly, Ibrahim won’t be the only Indian on the team; he has two others for company.
“It all started in 2013 when I was shuttling between India and the US, while playing Ranji Trophy for Hyderabad on and off. I had to be there as my wife was settled there,” says Ibrahim.
“Leaving behind my career and love for cricket and moving to a nation where cricket was still in a nascent stage was a tough call to make. I tried to stay focused and whenever I got the slightest opportunity to play cricket at clubs in the US, I took it. That was my last hope of staying in touch with the game,” he says.
Ibrahim’s tryst with the game started in his childhood, when he used to accompany his father, a cricketer with the Railways team in the Ranji Trophy.
“I started my career under the guidance of Arshad Ayub. Slowly, I made it to the state team under 16, 19, and 22. I was also one of the players in the IPL team of Mumbai Indians in 2009, but I didn’t get to play,” he shares.
Talking about his Hyderabad days, he says, “I made my Ranji Trophy debut for Hyderabad in 2002 and went on to play till 2015. While playing in the city, I got expert guidance from stalwarts like Syed Kirmani, Vijay Mohan Raj, Venkatapathi Raju and Rajesh Yadav, among others. The journey was fruitful and has made me what I am now.”...