Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
(This story was originally published on 13 October 2021 and is being republished from The Quint's archives after Umran Malik's haul of 4/28 against Punjab Kings in IPL 2022 on 17 April 2022)
On 6 October, SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) pacer Umran Malik clocked 153 kmph on the speed gun, the fastest delivery in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season. Claiming 1/21, Malik caught everyone's eye for the sheer pace he generated, as the SRH defended a small total against the RCB, winning by four runs.
Umran was a net bowler for the SRH. Once out of the play-off, the SRH decided to test him out in the IPL match, and he has been unstoppable since that debut.
The Jammu and Kashmir pace sensation has now been asked to stay back in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a net bowler for the Indian team for the T20 World Cup after making an impressive IPL debut.
Son of a Fruit Seller
Son of a fruit shop owner in Jammu, the 21-year-old has become a speed sensation. Overjoyed with the performance of his son, Abdul Rashid said, “I wish every child grows up to become like Umran Malik. He has made the whole country proud.”
Umran’s journey started at the age of three in the back lanes of Jammu. As a child, Umran was very passionate about cricket and, his father recalled how they used to drag him back to the house.
He used to put in a lot of effort for which he has been rewarded. He used to exercise until midnight. His mother was worried about him for not getting matches to play. His sisters used to pray for him.Abdul Rashid, Umran Malik's Father
Umran's Natural Talent
Umran's pace was discovered in 2018 at a local cricket coaching centre. Umran’s coach, Randhir Singh Manhas, remembers a morning session when a young Umran requested bowling.
A random boy comes to me and says I want to bowl, and I allowed him. Looking at him, I got to know that this boy has pace.Randhir Singh Manhas, Umran Malik's coach
Umran’s ‘special talent’ was recognised by fellow players who often said that his ball hit the bat really hard. Raman Thamploo, J&K Cricketer & Umran's friend, says, “Our senior cricketer Mr Ram Dayal came and said that he (Umran Malik) is a special talent, bowling at a speed of 135-140 km/hr.”
Former Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan helped Umran in his long and arduous journey. Calling his talent ‘natural’, Manhas mentions Irfan Pathan mentoring the Jammu and Kashmir team.
Irfan Pathan helped Umran with the technicalities in his early days, like his jump was not perfect.Randhir Singh Manhas, Umran Malik's coach
Thaploo says that Umran has emerged as an icon for youngsters struggling in the game to find a spot. He believes that with Umran playing, a message goes to the young boys who think that the game is biased against them, or that the players from poorer backgrounds cannot play.