Umran Malik continued to make people sit up and take notice of his exceptional talent with a memorable spell of fast bowling for Sunrisers Hyderabad in their Indian Premier League 2022 clash with Punjab Kings on Sunday.
The 22-year-old right-arm pacer from Jammu & Kashmir became just the third player to bowl a maiden in the 20th over of an innings in IPL history. He also picked three wickets in that over to return with impressive figures of 4/28 from his four overs and helped SRH bowl-out PBKS for 151.
Malik, who was one of the four players retained by the Sunrisers (for Rs 4 crore), has been one of the standout young players so far in IPL 2022. He has bagged nine wickers in six matches and consistently hit speeds of around 150 kmph.
Malik, who made his first-class debut in 2021, was identified by coached as a rare talent when he appeared at an Under-19 selection trial in Jammu & Kashmir. In 2018, he was selected as a net bowler by Sunrisers Hyderabad and in 2021, he got to make his IPL debut after T Natarajan was ruled out due to Covid-19.
In a video shared by broadcasters Star Sports India, Malik reflected on his journey and said he is determined to make to the Indian team soon.
Former South Africa pacer Dale Steyn, who is the fast bowling coach of SRH in IPL 2022, has been one of the most vocal supporters of Malik. The legendary cricketer, whose joyous reaction after Malik rattled KKR captain Shreyas Iyer’s stumps went viral, said it’s important to let the youngster run in and bowl fast without trying to tinker with his technique.
“It’s great to see someone run in and bowl 150kmph an hour. Very often we try and create guys to make them more aware like change your pace, do this and that. But I think Umran is out and out raw. It’s great to just let him loose and do what he does, which is great because you don’t want to change people and block him off too much,” Steyn told Star Sports.
“To watch him bowl at 150 clicks an hour consistently is super exciting, not just for me but for everyone watching the game at home or in stadium. It’s not great to face but it’s super exciting.”
After Hyderabad’s victory against Kolkata Knight Riders, in which Malik played a key role and returned with figures of 2/27, head coach Tom Moody said SRH are keen to use the pacer as a wicket-taking weapon.
“Umran has been embraced by the franchise. He has been embraced by the team. There is no question about that,” said Moody in the post-match press conference.
“Everyone enjoys his bowling. He bowled very well (against KKR). He stuck to his plans and we were quite meticulous with our planning to help him understand his role. At the end of the day, when you are bowling 150 kph an hour, you are likely to go for runs. He goes for a lot of runs behind the wicket. It’s not like he is getting smashed down the ground or through the covers.
Moody added: “So you got to accept that his style of bowling, there’s going to be a higher economy to that. And his role is to run in and express himself and be himself. We try and build a field around that so that he can express his fast bowling. He is clearly still at the beginning of his journey. He is learning every single day and having the likes of Dale Steyn around him is a huge boost because he is learning so much on the go. We accept he is going to go for runs, what we want to see is the return in terms of wickets.”
Here’s what some greats of the game said on Cricket Live on Star Sports about Umran Malik:
Ian Bishop: “I’ve been excited about this guy since I saw him bowl last year. Genuine pace, you cannot go to a supermarket and buy that. You can train someone to master line and length but can’t teach someone how to bowl fast. He’s bowling with hostility which means even the best of batters will be uncomfortable facing him. He scares you the same way Lockie Ferguson and Jofra Archer do, and Dale Steyn loves him. It’s just fascinating to me what Umran Malik can become. If he stays fit, he’s going to play for India and international cricket. I would also repeat how many Umran Malik’s around this vast nation are yet to be discovered.”
Sunil Gavaskar: “Umran Malik has been very-very impressive with his speed but more than his speed, it’s his accuracy (that’s impressed). A lot of guys who bowl at that speed tend to spray the ball around but Umran bowls very few wide deliveries. If he can control the wides down the leg side, he will be a tremendous bowler because that will mean he’ll be attacking the stumps all the time, and with his pace, it’s not easy to hit straight. If he bowls wicket-to-wicket, he’s going to be pretty much an unplayable bowler. He’s going to play for India.”
Dale Steyn: “My job with Umran is to ensure he runs fast and make players play differently. My job is to try and make him forward-thinking as to what the batters are planning on doing. It’s exciting for us to sit back and watch what a genius he is. I don’t want to turn him into what I was, all I want is his genius to come out.”
Irfan Pathan: “If a bowler has that extra pace then a batter is never comfortable facing him. The more he plays, the better he will get. If you observe his front foot, it stays very straight and also the follow-through is impressive. His run-up is fantastic. All this will take him the distance. He made his debut in first-class cricket and that must have given him some experience of bowling with the red ball. Umran is also special because despite bowling at such a pace he’s looking to try and get the ball to swing. Just look at the seam position with which he releases the ball. He is a special player.”
Here are some reactions from Twitter on Malik’s fiery spell against Punjab Kings: