Umran Malik has been a standout player for SRH [PC: Twitter]
Pace is a very rare skill. You either have it or you don’t. And if you do, it can all of a sudden go away from you with one injury. Accordingly, it has to be protected at any cost. Umran Malik has the pace. Being able to bowl 150 kph is an incredibly rare talent that can make a huge difference to Indian cricket going forward.
Ask any cricketer and you will be told that a ball coming at that pace is never easy to negotiate. No matter how good you are, it isn’t easy. Malik, who is in his second IPL season with the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), is only expected to get better from here on. Develop more skills and add to his repertoire. If the ball to Shreyas Iyer is anything to go by, he is a serious prospect for India in the next few years.
Make no mistake, he is still work in progress. With him every now and then you get a bouncer which will fly over the keeper’s head for 5 wides. It is natural. As one who is still raw and is striving for pace, these things happen in cricket. But when it lands on target, he can send stumps flying. Any day, a captain would take a bowler who gets you 3-40 in his four overs. If there are three such bowlers, you are actually talking about 120-9 in 12 and it is almost game over, for wickets win matches more than anything.
Umran Malik’s show in the IPL is a handy advertisement
Umran, not too long ago, was being trolled for being expensive and erratic. That’s the worst thing to do to a youngster. These faceless trolls who understand nothing can end up damaging the man. And that’s where the media has a role. Dale Steyn, we are told, has been hugely impressed with Malik. Time isn’t far away when Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid too start taking an active interest in him. It is safe to conjecture that the Chetan Sharma-led committee is already watching him close enough for Malik can be the X factor alongside Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and not to forget Shardul Thakur.
The fact that he has the extra pace can help him clean up tails and more than white ball cricket, he can be a handy Test bowler as well. A tearaway fast bowler running in to bowl real quick is one of the best advertisements for the sport and when the bowler is a great story, it makes it even better. Umran is now a hero in Jammu and Kashmir. He is a story of triumph amidst all adversity. He is a “Yes we can” story and that’s the kind of impact you want to see sports have on lives. For the sake of Indian cricket and more importantly Indian society, one hopes Umran only gets better from here on.