BY BHINESH ANTHONY
Bowling consistently at speeds above 90mph in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), Umran Malik has become India’s newest fast bowling sensation. Malik is an out-and-out fast bowler forcing batsmen to face up to a 22-year-old rookie who hasn’t even played a full season of IPL yet, and has an economy rate – the average number of runs a bowler concedes per over – north of eight per over.
Malik, who plays for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), has already bowled out some of the best. Last week he took the IPL 2022’s best bowling figures with five wickets for 25 runs against the table-topping Gujarat Titans. Malik shattered stumps with yorkers at high pace, discomfiting batters with short balls that they could barely react to and pounding a length that kept them on their toes.
In the game that followed, Malik bowled a 95mph (154kph) scorcher, the fastest ball in IPL 2022 so far.
Malik is from Kashmir. Malik’s father earned a modest living as a fruit seller, but the young bowler’s pursuit of his cricketing passion was unfettered. A star in local tennis-ball tournaments due to his pace, he first played with a leather ball when he was 17.
The pace that marked him out then would aid him as he climbed the rungs. Veteran Jammu and Kashmir bowler Ram Dayal mentored him, as did former India pacer Irfan Pathan. Abdul Samad, who plays for SRH and a close friend, recommended Malik be taken on as a net bowler during last year’s IPL.
In the nets, Malik hurried and harried batters of the calibre of David Warner, Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson. When T Natarajan was out of IPL 2021 with an injury, Malik was drafted in as a replacement.
There is now excited talk that Malik may break into the India T20 squad. This would be some feat, appearing from virtually nowhere. Malik’s sudden and unexpected rise is the stuff of dreams.
Watch this space. Watch his pace!