Umran Malik, who wowed fans with his blistering pace in the IPL 2021, has been asked to return to the UAE to serve as a net bowler for the Indian squad at the T20 World Cup. Before the IPL, Umran had only played one List A game and one T20 for Jammu & Kashmir, and was initially signed as a net bowler for Sunrisers Hyderabad. When T Natarajan was ruled out due to Covid-19, he was brought into the main squad and made an immediate impression in his first game, going above 150kph on several occasions.

In his second encounter, against Royal Challengers Bangalore, he contributed to a four-run victory and clocked 153kph, the fastest ball of the IPL 2021 season thus far. After the game, Virat Kohli stated that Umran needs to be looked after in order for India to get the most out of him.

Every year, this event produces talent,” Kohli said at the awards ceremony. “It’s encouraging to see someone bowling at 150. From here on out, it’s critical to understand how individuals improve, how to manage your body, and how to get the most out of them. The presence of a robust pool of fast bowlers would always be beneficial to Indian cricket. When you see talent like this, you definitely want to keep an eye on them and make sure they reach their full potential.”

The 21-year-old had pleased Kohli enough to gain a call-up to the Indian team as a net bowler. Umran’s IPL campaign ended in a high-scoring loss for Sunrisers Hyderabad against Mumbai Indians, and while he went for runs like every other bowler in the game, his speed did have an impact, getting a marauding Ishan Kishan out for 84 off 32 and pinging an equally free-flowing Suryakumar Yadav (82 off 40) on the helmet.

With India drawn in the same group as Pakistan and New Zealand for the T20 World Cup, Umran’s pace could be a key aspect in their preparations. In Shaheen Shah Afridi and Lockie Ferguson, both teams have bowlers who can bowl quickly. On October 24, India will play Pakistan in their first T20 World Cup encounter.