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“This young player from Ohio came to me some years ago and asked me to play at the US Open T20 tournament because he was not getting opportunities. We welcomed him into the fold and today he is now lined up to play at the prestigious Indian Premier League (IPL).” The words of chairman and founder of Cricket Council USA (CCUSA) Muhammad Qureshi speaking about Mahammad Ali Khan.
For the first time in history, the IPL will see participation by an American cricketer after Kolkata Knight Riders signed Ali Khan, a 29-year-old fast bowler from the USA. He will replace the injured Harry Gurney, who pulled out of the IPL and is set to undergo a shoulder injury.
Khan was part of the Trinbago Knight Riders’ squad which remained unbeaten en route to their CPL title win. In the tournament, Khan picked up eight wickets from eight matches with an economy rate of 7.43. As per reports, Khan was on KKR’s radar last season as well but no deal could be worked out.
Qureshi who has been a mentor to Khan said: “We are extremely happy that Ali is now at the IPL. He has worked very hard at his game and he deserves every bit of credit that he gets.” It was Qureshi who was responsible for Ali Khan getting noticed. “Although he was working hard and doing well within leagues in America, the only way he could have caught the international attention was through the US Open T20 tournament because this is where the international players come and take part.
Some years ago I decided that I should bring up Dwayne Bravo and Darren Bravo, West Indies players to take part in the US Open T20 tournament. I had CCUSA’s Caribbean official Vinode Mamchan make the arrangement and the brothers came up. There were in the US All Stars team with a number of good local talent in Ali Khan, Jaskaran Malhotra and Zishawn Qureshi. While playing in the tournament Dwayne Bravo noticed Ali’s good bowling and took his information. He then got him into the Global T20 and then took him to play in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
“Ali did not disappoint him and in his first year with the TKR they won the title. He has been going back there now for three years and his good performances have caught the eyes of the KKR owner Shah Rukh Khan.
“We are very happy for him and we will continue to work hard to produce more players like him so that the USA cricket is seen on the world stage. Without the US Open T20 there would not have been an opportunity for Ali Khan. Thank God we have been able to keep our tournament running for 12 years so that players like Ali can get a chance to show the world what they are worth.”