The exclusion of the young and promising pacer, Umran Malik, from Team India’s Asian Games 2023 squad raised eyebrows and sparked discussions among cricket enthusiasts. However, a twist of fate in the form of an unfortunate injury to Shivam Mavi may pave the way for Malik’s entry into the squad.
The storyline took an unexpected turn when Shivam Mavi, the initially selected player for the Asian Games, suffered an injury. This setback prompted the Board of Cricket for Control in India (BCCI) to reconsider their squad composition.
Umran Malik, who had been initially left out of the squad, is now back in contention due to his impressive performance and potential as a fast bowler.
The selectors had originally contemplated selecting Yash Thakur, but a back injury sidelined him, making him unavailable for the tournament. Thakur had made a name for himself while representing the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) in the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL).
Ruturaj Gaikwad is set to lead Team India’s second-string squad for the Asian Games, scheduled to take place from September 28 to October 8. The timing of the tournament coincides with the Men in Blue’s home ODI series against Australia and the preparations for the World Cup. Consequently, the first-team members were not considered for selection.
With the first-team coaching staff fully focused on the impending World Cup, the responsibility of overseeing the Asian Games squad falls on the shoulders of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) head, VVS Laxman.
Sariaj Bahutule will assume the role of looking after the bowling department, ensuring that the young talents are groomed to their fullest potential. Munish Bali will take charge of the fielding coaching responsibilities.
Umran Malik’s journey has been a roller-coaster ride. After earning his maiden India call-up following a stellar 2022 IPL campaign with the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), Malik’s form took a dip.
Malik’s performance in the 2023 IPL was a cause for concern, as he managed to claim only five wickets in eight matches, with an economy rate of 10.85. He also had a modest outing during Team India’s tour of the Caribbean, failing to pick up a wicket in the two ODIs he played.
Intriguingly, reports suggest that Tilak Varma might also not feature in the Asian Games squad. The Team India management appears keen on keeping the young batter as a reserve player for the 2023 ODI World Cup, highlighting their belief in his potential.