Euro 2020 Special

Why Is Umran Malik Being Left Out of Indian Cricket? Is He Not Good Enough?

Umran Malik quickly rose to fame during the 2022 Indian T20 League for his blinding pace. India had not seen a seamer bowling at the speeds he was clocking on an average. With pace crossing the 150kmph mark, he was dubbed India’s fastest bowler, albeit, unofficially. All the hype surrounding the young lad from Jammu followed by a decent set of results in franchise cricket earned him a spot in the national squad for international duties.

However, after just three opportunities, Malik was dropped from the squad indefinitely, making way for his fellow seamer Arshdeep Singh, who on the contrary has been faring brilliantly and has been a regular for the past couple of months. Arshdeep’s inclusion in the 2022 Asia Cup followed by the T20 World Cup and all that precedes serves as an excellent testament to his growth as a fully-fledged seamer.

So why is Umran Malik seen out of favour as of now? Why has he been shunned from the Indian team?


Umran’s greatest strength becomes his greatest weakness

Umran Malik, known for clocking speeds over 150 kmph consistently, rose to fame for his ability to scalp wickets using his blinding pace combined with toe-crushing yorkers. At first, a pace like his from an Indian bowler was not known before and perhaps that is why the cricket world took notice of this young 22-year-old. However, with time, Umran’s greatest strength became his greatest weakness as his opponents began to understand his bowling style.

On his debut against Ireland, Malik bowled his first international over, where he conceded 14 runs for no loss. In his second match against Ireland, Malik bowled four overs, where he conceded 42 runs for just one wicket. Against England later that month, Malik was given another chance to redeem himself but failed to make a positive impact. In four overs, the young seamer conceded a whopping 56 with just one wicket to show. Those three matches were the only opportunities Malik got and has not donned the Indian jersey since.

Part of the reason why Malik failed to make the most of his unique pace is that experts believe he’s not pitching the ball properly. Moreover, his lack of swing in the ball reduces the efforts required by the batter he bowls. This means that the batter just has to time his shot and Malik’s pace will do the rest for him. Veteran Pakistani seamer Shaheen Afridi commented on Umran Malik’s pace a few months ago stating his point of view on the young seamer’s pace,

“Speed can’t help you if you don’t have line and length and swing,”


Umran Malik needs experience

Another obvious point is that Umran Malik is inexperienced and has a lot to learn. With his pace as the subject, he has already been compared to some of the all-time greats like Shoaib Akhtar. However, Shoaib was one of the most fearsome bowlers due to his incredible command with the swing while maintaining the pace. His line and length combined with the speed would be enough to confuse the batter facing the delivery, wondering which way the ball will swing upon pitching.

To learn and develop such techniques many ex-players say that Malik should first play Test cricket, much like the young Pakistani seamer Naseem Shah. You might remember the 18-year-old Naseem Shah, who debuted against India in the 2022 Asia Cup. Naseem had never played T20I cricket before this fixture and was featured more in Test cricket. As per the results, Naseem bagged seven wickets in six games, taking at least one in every match.

Indian legend Madan Lal said that Malik should be made a regular in Test cricket, where he can learn the craft of taking wickets.

“Speed won’t be of much use if you don’t take wickets and you don’t move the ball. He is inexperienced and that experience will come from playing Test matches.”

Ex-player and pundit Aakash Chopra also commented on Malik stating that he is not ripe for the picking yet and needs more time before he should be brought back to international cricket. He is a raw talent and needs more exposure and game time. To ponder, there will be no other option as good as Test cricket.


Where can Umran Malik get more experience?

Umran Malik does not have a contract with any foreign country or domestic cricket, meaning he will have to play in Indian domestic cricket. For now, the Jammu seamer has featured in the JKCA Senior Multi-Day Cup tournament in Jammu and later joined the National Cricket Academy (NCA).

Undoubtedly, Malik will return to the 2023 Indian T20 League, where the world will see how much he has improved. With the franchise league as the proving grounds, we can expect the 22-year-old to make his comeback to international cricket.

Also Read: India vs Australia 1st T20I Review: Australians Triumph in Mohali




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