Umran Malik, hailed as India’s fastest bowler and the next big thing in international cricket, faced an unexpected setback during the 16th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) while representing Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). Despite his initial success, Umran’s role was limited, leading to speculations about his exclusion and concerns about his future in the league. Former cricketers Irfan Pathan and Virender Sehwag have shared contrasting views on the matter, raising further questions about Umran’s development and the management’s handling of the talented fast bowler.
Umran Malik gained recognition by delivering the fastest ball ever recorded by an Indian pacer in the IPL. This accomplishment earned him a retained spot with SRH for INR 4 crore. Additionally, Umran received his maiden India cap in white-ball cricket during the 2022 season, further solidifying his potential as a top-tier fast bowler.
Despite high expectations, Umran found himself on the sidelines for a significant portion of the IPL 2023 season, only making eight appearances for SRH. This unexpected decision left many bewildered, including former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan, who expressed his surprise and criticized SRH’s management for mishandling the talented speedster. In contrast, Virender Sehwag criticized Umran for failing to learn from senior bowler Dale Steyn during his time with SRH. In recent interview Sehwag questioned Umran Malik attitude for not learning anything from pace ace Dale Steyn at the SRH camp
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Irfan Pathan voiced his opinion on Umran’s situation and provided a befitting reply to Sehwag’s remark on Umran Malik’s line and length. He emphasized that a fast bowler of Umran’s caliber should never compromise his speed, and line and length would naturally improve over time. Irfan questioned whether it was more important for Umran to bowl with extra pace or focus solely on line and length. He believed Umran should maintain his speed and have additional variations to surprise batsmen, rather than sacrificing his primary weapon.
Irfan Pathan also added, “Aiden Markram, the captain of SRH, appeared uncertain about the selection process when questioned about Umran’s omission from the playing XI. Umran’s statistics for the season, with only five wickets in eight matches and an economy rate of 10.85, were below expectations, but if you see CSK’s Tushardes Pandey, he is getting chances in every match with the same economy rate. He is getting wickets, too, this strategy can be adopted for Umran too, but SRH failed to back to their previous year’s star pacer. “
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Irfan Pathan revealed that he had personal conversations with Umran and had devised a plan to move forward. He believed Umran should have been given more backing by the team and selectors, comparing his situation to that of Tushar Deshpande, who had similar economy rates but received more opportunities and performed well. Irfan stressed the importance of giving young players a longer run to prove themselves.
Irfan Pathan also praised Rinku Singh, the Kolkata Knight Riders’ standout uncapped player in IPL 2023. Singh showcased remarkable composure under pressure and delivered match-winning performances for his team. Irfan acknowledged Yashasvi Jaiswal’s improved performance as well, but he ultimately named Rinku Singh as the standout uncapped player of the season due to his consistent contributions and memorable innings.