From Tennis Ball Cricket To SRH’s Pace Sensation, ‘Umran Malik Continues To Learn And Show Improvement’ On Cricketnmore

“Umran Malik continues to learn and show improvement. That’s the most heartening thing,” said former West Indies pacer Ian Bishop’s tweet on Malik shining for Sunrisers Hyderabad on a hot Sunday afternoon at the DY Patil Stadium against the Punjab Kings.

If Bhuvneshwar Kumar made use of his experience and variations to get three wickets, Malik thrived on out-and-out pace, keeping the speed gun busy and taking four wickets to play a crucial hand in keeping Punjab to 151.

With Malik, it is a double-edged sword: his high pace can be used by the batters to get boundaries which Liam Livingstone did (the uppercut over the third man stands out). But at the same time, the pace can be used to bounce out batters or rattle the stumps, which happened in all four of his scalps di lui while conceding 28 runs on a sluggish pitch.

Steaming in at a scorching Navi Mumbai afternoon with raw pace is something which the Jammu native is accustomed to. “In Jammu, it usually gets to 47 or 48 degrees, so it doesn’t matter (on the heat), it’s actually nice to play in this heat,” said Malik during the innings break to the broadcasters.

Since the match against Kolkata Knight Riders, where he rattled Shreyas Iyer’s stumps with a yorker and got Dale Steyn, Hyderabad’s pace bowling coach, jump out of his seat, Malik has bowled with better control, mixing it with his pace, making life hard for the batters at the crease, seen from him bouncing out Jitesh Sharma and Odean Smith.

“I think I have got my line and length better over the last few days, the plan was to keep it full and straight, and in that channel just outside off. In that over (eighth), I hadn’t hit a bouncer and it was my thought to bowl him into the body. I was thinking that if I bowl into his body with pace, he would hit it to go high. That’s what happened. For the second one (Smith), I wanted to catch the ball as I am a good fielder too (laughs), “stated Malik.

In a sensational final over, after bouncing out Smith, Malik uprooted the off-stumps of Rahul Chahar and Vaibhav Arora in fantastic fashion. What stood out the most from the back-to-back dismissals was the pacy, full and fired at the stumps, the stuff which makes people say ‘wow, unplayable’.

Chahar and Arora won’t be the only people during and after the game to say that Malik’s pace is too hot to handle. His Hyderabad team-mate, New Zealand keeper Glenn Phillips, had some similar stuff to say. “He’s absolutely rapid. Facing him in the nets is a nightmare. I’ve got my chest guard on to not get hurt. Imagine what those balls (in the game) will be feeling out there.”

Another overseas teammate, South Africa’s Aiden Markram is relieved over him not being on the opposition side to face Malik and his fiery bowling. “He’s been on fire this tournament. I certainly love being in the same team as him so that I don’t have to face him out in the middle in matches. He’s really growing from game to game and a lot of credit goes to his attitude of improving from game to game. “

Markram also took note of Malik’s quest to learn and be better outside the cricketing field. “Also, to the work done by the management and Dale Steyn, it’s great to have him in our armory. He gives his 120% every single time he plays and asks really good questions off the field about how to get better. He’s been great for us so far and have no doubt that he will keep getting better and try to bowl fast which is exciting times for us and for Indian cricket going forward. “

If batters feel that Malik and his fiery pace will give them sleepless nights, there is a message for them: the right-arm speedster is adding more to his arsenal.

“Today also, I tried one or two slower balls, which went well. I am bowling slower ones, yorkers and I am trying to bowl on the fuller lengths instead of bowling back as I want to make the batter play forward,” affirmed Malik after picking his ‘Player of the Match’ award.

For someone who began playing hard-ball cricket just three years ago and came as a Covid-19 replacement for left-arm quick T. Natrajan in the Hyderabad squad at 2021 IPL in the UAE, it has been a stunning rise for Malik.

“Our work is to scare the batsmen (laughingly). Till 2018/19, I used to play in tennis ball cricket. I have been playing with the hardball for the last three years. I was practicing regularly and then I used to practice alongside (Abdul) Samad. He had said about the net bowler needed for the franchise. From there, slowly the journey started. “

Also Read: IPL 2022 – Scorecard

If all goes well and injuries don’t throw a curveball in his cricketing journey, expect Malik to continue making giant strides in the universe of pace bowling.

IB

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