Umran Malik to stay back in UAE as net bowler for India's T20 World Cup campaign
The 21-year-old Sunrisers bowler had turned heads with his tearaway speeds in IPL 2021
Umran Malik, who turned heads with his tearaway speed in IPL 2021, has been asked to stay back in the UAE as a net bowler for the Indian team for the T20 World Cup, ESPNcricinfo has learnt.
Malik had played only one List A game and one T20 for Jammu and Kashmir before the IPL, and was initially recruited as a net bowler for Sunrisers Hyderabad for this season. He was drafted into the main squad when T Natarajan was ruled out due to Covid-19, and made an immediate impact in his first game, going over 150kph on occasions.
In his second match, against Royal Challengers Bangalore, he helped pull off a four-run win and clocked 153kph - the fastest ball of IPL 2021 so far.
That prompted Virat Kohli to say after the game that Malik needed to be looked after, to ensure India could get the best out of him.
"This tournament throws up talent every year," Kohli had said at the presentation. "It's good to see a guy bowling at 150 clicks. It's important to understand the progress of individuals from here on, how to maintain your body and how you can get the best out of them. The pool of fast bowlers being strong is always going to be a good thing for Indian cricket. Whenever you see talent like this, obviously you're going to have your eyes on them and make sure that you maximise their potential."
The 21-year-old had impressed Kohli enough to earn a call-up as a net bowler with the Indian team.
Malik's IPL campaign ended in Sunrisers' high-scoring loss against Mumbai Indians, and though he went for runs in the game along with every bowler, his speed did cause a significant impact, getting a marauding Ishan Kishan out for 84 off 32, and pinging an equally free-flowing Suryakumar Yadav (82 off 40) on the helmet.
Malik's pace could be a significant factor for India's preparations for the T20 World Cup, with the team being drawn in the same group as Pakistan and New Zealand. Both sides have bowlers who can bowl it quick, in Shaheen Shah Afridi and Lockie Ferguson. India open their T20 World Cup campaign with a match against Pakistan on October 24.