Hurricane Umran stings with pace

India's latest pace sensation Umran Malik has been impressive in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).

After starting his journey as a net bowler for Sunrisers Hyderabad, the 22-year-old from Jammu and Kashmir is now among the top-five bowlers in the tournament this season.

He bagged 15 wickets with an economy of 7.97 in nine matches but what sets him apart from other bowlers is his delivery - 90 per cent of his deliveries were above 150kmh.

Umran was ineffective against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) last Sunday but his exploits against table-toppers Gujarat Titans on April 27 definitely intensified the buzz surrounding him.

In that match, Umran claimed his maiden five-wicket haul (5-25) and troubled India's star batters with his breathtaking speed.

Indian cricket legend and commentator Sunil Gavaskar was awestruck with Umran's performance and even came up with a unique suggestion for batters on how to face the fast bowler.

Gavaskar told Star Sports: "Take a single and go to the non-striker's end."

The 1983 World Cup winner also suggested another way of tackling Umran's pace: Don't let him see your stumps, cover all three so that when he runs in to bowl, he needs to locate the off and leg stumps."

Umran leaked runs at 12 per over in the clash against CSK but he also clocked the fastest delivery of IPL 2022. He touched 154kmh in the 10th over and again in the 19th over - bettering the 153.9kmh delivery clocked by Gujarat Titans' New Zealand fast-bowler Lockie Ferguson.

Bowling at 150kmh-plus has become routine for Umran. "If the Almighty makes it happen, I will bowl 155kmh," he said after the match against CSK.

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen said co-commentator Gavaskar was "punching the ceiling, jumping and screaming" from watching Umran's maddening speeds.

"I think Sunny did that because how often do we see India produce the fastest bowler in world cricket?" said Pietersen.

The other Indian fast bowlers in IPL 2022 pale in comparison to Umran. Kamlesh Nagarkoti hit 145.8kmh, Navdeep Saini 149kmh, Prasidh Krishna 147.3kmh, Mohammed Siraj 145.5kmh, Kuldeep Sen 148.2 kmh and Shivam Mavi 147.8kmh.

Senior Congress party leader and India's former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is thrilled by Umran's raw pace. He said: "The Umran Malik hurricane is blowing away everything in its way.

"The sheer pace and aggression are a sight to behold. No doubt he is the find of this edition of IPL.

"The BCCI (Indian cricket board) should give him an exclusive coach and quickly induct him into the national team."

Umran comes from a humble background. Born in Jammu's Gujjar Nagar, his father Abdul Rashid earned a living selling fruits.

But the young bowler's passion in cricket was unfettered.

A star in local tennis-ball tournaments because of his pace, Umran first played with a leather ball at age 17. The pace that marked him out then would help him climb the rungs.

Veteran Jammu and Kashmir bowler Ram Dayal mentored him, as did former India fast bowler Irfan Pathan. Abdul Samad, who plays for SRH and is a close friend, recommended Umran be taken on as a net bowler during last year's IPL.

In the nets, Umran hurried and harried batters of the calibre of David Warner, Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson. When left-arm fast-bowler T. Natarajan was out of IPL 2021 with an injury, Umran was drafted in as a replacement.

"Umran is fantastic. He has amazing skills, he is showing everybody, bowling 150kmh," said South African Dale Steyn, one of the greatest fast bowlers to play the game and SRH bowling coach.

"I am kind of living through him, wishing I could do that. But it's all him at the moment. He is certainly somebody we should keep an eye on for the future."

West Indian Ian Bishop, a great fast bowler and now among the best commentators in cricket, calls Umran the "real deal".

India has undergone a pace revolution of sorts in recent years, with the likes of Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Siraj at the forefront. But while they are genuinely quick, that thunderbolt blitz is something that only Umran possesses right now.

Should Umran be on the plane with the Indian T20 World Cup squad to Australia in October?

Australian cricketer Chris Lynn thinks so. "He's going to take the world by storm if he gets a chance at the international level," Lynn told ESPNCricinfo.

Indo-Asian New Service

"He's going to take the world by storm if he gets a chance at the international level." - Australian cricketer Chris Lynn on Umran Malik

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