This pacer clocks 150 kmph; Ravi Shastri says he can play for India
Umar Malik took two wickets against Rajasthan Royals. Photo: BCCI/IPL

This pacer clocks 150 kmph; Ravi Shastri says he can play for India

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Former India coach Ravi Shastri has heaped praise on Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) fast bowler Umar Malik after watching him against Rajasthan Royals (RR) on Tuesday night (March 29) in IPL 2022.

Jammu and Kashmir’s right-arm bowler Malik has impressed one and all with his pace. And, it was no different on Tuesday at Pune’s MCA Stadium. Though his team lost by 61 runs, Malik’s fast bowling was under the spotlight as he dismissed Jos Buttler and Devdutt Padikkal. Malik took the award for bowling the fastest ball of the match – clocked at 150 kmph.

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Commentating on the host broadcaster Star Sports, former India all-rounder Shastri said that the 22-year-old Malik is an Indian player and should be handled properly.

“There is no doubting his potential. This guy is an India player… He is consistent and I like his attitude. This kid can only learn. This guy has got genuine pace, if he hits the right areas, he is going to trouble a lot of batters,” Shastri said.

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“It’s about handling him properly. You have got to give him the right messages. The way you communicate with him will be very important,” he added.

Umar Malik with his award for bowling the fastest delivery of the match against Rajasthan. Photo: BCCI/IPL

In 2021, Malik had become only the fourth cricketer from J&K to play in the IPL. He followed in the footsteps of Parvez Rasool, Rasikh Salam and Abdul Samad. After SRH’s paceman T Natarajan was unavailable for selection due to testing positive for COVID-19 during IPL 2021 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Malik was called up as his replacement.

On October 3, 2021, he made his IPL debut in Dubai against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and clocked 151.03 kmph. He caught the attention of players and fans. At the time, it was the fastest delivery bowled by an Indian in the season. Later, he bowled at 152.95 kmph, fastest of the season, against the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

Kohli, Williamson praise Malik

Watching Malik’s pace from close quarters, Kohli was impressed with the youngster. “This tournament throws up talent every year, good to see a guy bowling at 150 clicks. It is important to understand the progress of individuals from here on,” Kohli said.

“The pool of fast bowlers being strong is always a good sign for Indian cricket and whenever you see talent like this, you are going to have your eyes on them and make sure you maximise their potential which is already being seen at the IPL level,” he added.

Umar Malik with Virat Kohli during IPL 2021. Photo: BCCI/IPL

“Umran certainly is special. We’ve seen him in the nets for a couple of seasons. Special opportunity for him and it’s not surprising to see him come and do well. He has been a really valuable addition to the side,” SRH skipper Kane Williamson had said.

“I try and keep it really simple with him but he’s got a lot of mates in the team and they share the message and he takes the game on,” he added.

Son of a fruit seller

When he made his IPL debut, Malik, who is from Jammu’s Gujjar Nagar, had played just one T20 game for J&K. The showing in IPL helped him join as a net bowler for India at the ICC T20 World Cup 2021. He was also picked for India A tour of South Africa where he made his first-class debut in November 2021. So far, he has featured in three first-class matches, one List A, and nine T20s.

Ahead of this year’s IPL, SRH retained Malik for Rs 4 crore. He had first joined SRH as a net bowler in 2020 thanks to his friend Abdul Samad, who was already with the franchise.

Malik, who is the son of a fruit seller, started playing cricket with tennis ball and it was only in 2017 that he bowled with a leather ball. In five years’ time, it has been a good journey and he will be hoping to continue bowling fast and win an India cap soon. For that, he has to consistently perform in the ongoing IPL.

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