Should Umran Malik Feature In T20 World Cup
His pace has put him ahead and is already ranked as the fastest Indian bowler. The determination in him has also aided his luck and climbed to glory on a bigger stage like the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The 22-year-old appeared on the scene last year during the second leg of the IPL in UAE. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) were without the services of T Natarajan and the rookie bowler was brought in as a replacement.
Veteran Jammu and Kashmir bowler Ram Dayal and former India pacer Irfan Pathan mentored him in the early stages of his career. Abdul Samad, who plays for SRH and is Umran's close friend, recommended the franchise to recruit him as a net bowler. Before playing, the emerging pacer already stunned the batters of calibre like David Warner, Kane Williamson and Jonny Bairstow.
Later when given the opportunity, it took only three games for Umran to let the world know what he is here for. The selectors also asked him to stay back in UAE as a net bowler for the Indian cricket team for the T20 World Cup.
The pacer also made his first-class debut without playing Ranji Trophy as he represented India 'A' in South Africa. In the process, SRH opted to retain him for INR 4 crore ahead of the 2022 mega auction.
The cricket fraternity was waiting for what Umran will offer this year on the pitches where seamers and spinners are productive slightly. The knack of consistently hitting the 90 mph barrier put him cut above the rest and now many of the cricketing greats are talking about him. It was a matter of time for him to dominate among the fastest-ever bowlers in the IPL. He delivered the second-fastest delivery in the competition's history, clocking the 157 kmph mark. He holds the record for bowling the three fastest deliveries among the top five quickest deliveries in IPL's history.
Former Australia Shaun Tait holds the record for bowling the quickest ever IPL delivery (157.71 kmph) but it won't be surprising if Umran manages to claim that record any time soon. Despite playing a handful of matches, his ability to hit above 90 mph has stirred up a debate about him playing in the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
Umran can be the one for India who might hold the key in the mega event Downunder. The Jammu & Kashmir bowler surely has an edge above all but drafting him in the side at such young age may backfire due to a few reasons.
A Touch Expensive
Having a bowler, who has that amount of pace is always best to have in a captain's armoury but Umran has given SRH captain Kane Williamson headaches where he went for plenty.
In nine games, he has 15 wickets but he is conceding runs at an economy rate of 8.80. His best performance came last week against Gujarat Titans where he bagged a fifer by only giving away 25 runs and also registered the best bowling figures of the IPL.
There have been glimpses of brilliance but there has also been signs of immaturity on many occasions. He clicked the 156 kmph and 157 kmph on successive deliveries but the batters hammered those to the boundary rope. The lack of variations caused Umran to concede 52 runs in his quota of four overs.
On the other hand, veteran Bhuvneshwar Kumar can be labelled as a blinding light of skipper Williamson where he has given control at the top and also at the back-end. In 10 games, he has as many wickets. Kumar, who is far less pacy compared to Umran, may not be among the wicket-takers but his economy rate of 6.91 is the main highlight.
Is It Necessary To Include Him In The Mega Event
Umran surely made his case stronger but there are more experienced options available for India going into the T20 World Cup later this year.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar will surely be up there while veteran Mohammad Shami holds the key role in the pace bowling department.
Umran's SRH teammate T Natarajan was out of the Indian side due to injuries but he had a great run in Australia two years back in his debut series. The left-arm medium-pacer is also the highest wicket-taker with 17 scalps among the Indian seamers in this year's IPL and his performances will surely knock the doors of selectors to pick him in the shorter format.
On the other hand, an all-rounder and a spinner are a must whatever the conditions.
Can Only Improve Under Steyn
Umran Malik has the best mentors available at SRH. The likes of Tom Moody, Brian Lara, Muttiah Muralitharan and most importantly Dale Steyn are there to guide the youngster. At such a young age, the rush of the blood to bowl faster may affect his progress and having someone like Steyn to mentor will only make him better going forward.
Steyn has asked him to bowl as quick as he can and don't worry about the line and length but given his age, he is allowed to express himself in IPL this year but in the future, Umran will hold a key spot in SRH's bowling and Steyn's presence and guidance will help him to bowl with maturity by having all the variations in the armoury.
A couple of IPL seasons and first-class experience will be beneficial for Umran's progress as a pacer and bringing him to the Indian side will help him evolve on the international stage.
On the other hand, a pacer with so much stress on the body has a higher risk of injuries. Every fast bowler has suffered from body breakdowns and stress fractures. In the past, many pacers' careers were cut short due to injuries and they were out of the limelight. Protecting Umran will also be in the back of the mind for BCCI going forward but the world awaits his presence on the bigger stage.
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