Umran Malik came out of nowhere and delivered thunderbolts in the Indian Premier League in 2021. Among his fast and furious deliveries was the quickest ball – 153 kph – by an Indian in that edition. The batters struggled to get into positions as the leather whooshed past them.
“I am my inspiration,” declared Malik during a conversation with Sportstar on Tuesday.
He is in Chennai with the Jammu & Kashmir Ranji Trophy team. And things are happening fast for the new kid on the fast lane. “I was a net bowler for India during the Twenty20 World Cup. It was a great experience.”
Then Malik travelled to South Africa with the India ‘A’ team. “I learnt a lot during the tour.”
Talking about his journey, the 22-year-old Malik said, “I come from Gujjar Nagar in Jammu. There are no facilities there, not even a cricket ground.”
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But then, he had the urge in him to bowl fast. He would venture into his neighbourhood and participate in tennis ball competitions. “I would bowl fast with the tennis ball and the batsmen would struggle to score off me. That gave me confidence.”
Soon Malik’s speed and potential were noticed and he was drafted into the state under-19 side. Former India international Irfan Pathan played a major role in his career. “The Ranji Trophy and the under-19 practice was happening in adjacent nets and I would approach Irfan bhai for inputs.”
Malik revealed, “And he would take time out and teach me the skills. When I was doing something wrong, he would correct me by making me bowl with a shorter run-up.”
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And Malik, when travelling, would send videos of his bowling to Irfan who would respond promptly. It is a relationship that has blossomed.
At his best, Malik is a lovely, natural seamer with a rhythmic run-up and an explosive side-on release.
Jasprit Bumrah is his favourite pacer among current Indian seamers. “I like his yorkers and slower ones in particular.”
His sights are set high. Representing India is prominent in his list of priorities.
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