Umran Malik may have broken out of obscurity in the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) but he continues to turn heads whenever he takes the ball in his hands due to his sheer pace. In the first T20I against Sri Lanka on Tuesday at the Wankhede Stadium, Umran kept his speeds above the 144kph consistently and even went in a 155kph thunderbolt at one point and smashing the record for the fastest delivery bowled by an Indian.
His pace has led to batting great Sunil Gavaskar stating that he has never been this excited about a young Indian player since watching the legendary Sachin Tendulkar. Vivrant Sharma, Umran’s longtime friend and his J&K and now his IPL teammate with the Sunrisers Hyderabad, has given a glimpse into what it is like to face him as a batter. Vivrant says that Umran gets pumped up when cheers come his way, even in the nets.
“Even on the nets if people start cheering for him, it gives him an adrenaline rush. He will start bowling quicker,” Vivrant told the Indian Express. “Uska hai ki maar hi dena hai batsman ko aur net pe toh no-ball ka koi concept hai nahi wo 22 yard 18 yard ho jata hai aur agar 4 logo ne waah Umran waah kar diya fir aapko bhagwan hi bacha sakte hai (He just wants to go hard at the batsman and in the nets, you don’t have the concept of no-ball, 22 yards reduce to 18, and if few people start chanting his name, then only god can save you,” he said.
Vivrant says that such is the ferocity of Umran’s face that facing other fast bowlers feels easy after playing against him. “Nets pe toh Umran 160 daalta hai usko face karne ka baad 135 waale haluwa lagte hai (He bowls at 160 in the nets and after facing him, it is very easy to face bowlers with the speed of 135),” he said.
Raman Thaploo, a cricketer from J&K who has watched Malik’s journey closely, said that SRH’s bowling coach, the South African pace great Dale Steyn, gave Umran a peculiar bit of advice in order to tell him to never lose his pace. “Dale Steyn told Umran, ‘You are born to ride a Ferrari, never switch to a Fiat,’” said Thaploo.