Kashmir’s lightning-quick bowler Umran Malik tipped for India after igniting IPL
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The 22-year-old returned figures of 5-25, becoming the first player on a losing team this season to be awarded man of the match, as his Sunrisers Hyderabad team went down to Gujarat Titans in a last-over thriller on Wednesday.
The son of a fruit vendor rattled Gujarat's big guns including skipper Hardik Pandya, Wriddhiman Saha and David Miller to earn rich praise from cricketing greats.
Former Test captain Sunil Gavaskar had already predicted Malik would play for India and, after the express bowler's five-wicket haul, said India should "take him to England for the one-off Test and the limited-overs (in July)."
Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen said on Star Sports: "I think what was more exciting than these five wickets is the way Sunny (Gavaskar) was celebrating in the commentary box.
India, once renowned for producing spin bowlers, currently have a potent pace attack led by Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.
The fast bowling revolution was started more than 20 years ago by Zaheer Khan, now director of cricket with Mumbai Indians, and has seen a steady stream of world-class pace bowlers emerge since.
Malik, menacing with a thick mop of hair and a silver chain, bowled Saha with an unplayable yorker at nearly 153kph to raise the roof at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
He flattened Miller's stumps with another pacy delivery and then bowled Abhinav Manohar for a duck to register his first IPL five-wicket return.
- 'Learn and improve' -
"The idea was just to bowl as fast as I can. The ground is slightly on the smaller side so the idea is to stay on the stumps, mix the pace and try to keep the ball within the stumps," Malik said.
"God willing, if I have to bowl 155kph, I will do it one day. But at the moment, all I want to do is bowl well."
Gujarat's New Zealand import Lockie Ferguson has bowled the fastest delivery at 153.9kph this year so far.
Australia's Shaun Tait bowled the IPL's fastest ball at 157kph in 2011.
Malik was picked up by Hyderabad last season as a Covid replacement for T. Natarajan.
Hyderabad, champions in 2016, retained him for $523,000 ahead of the auction this season and the bowler has repaid them with 15 wickets in eight matches.
"Umran is growing in confidence as the tournament unfolds. He bowled exceptionally well tonight," said Hyderabad coach Tom Moody. "The most pleasing thing with Umran is he is constantly wanting to learn and improve."