Umran Malik has got pace, slowly improving skill-wise, can be kept in the reckoning: RP Singh

New Delhi: Tearaway pacer Umran Malik has managed to start 2023 brightly, picking seven wickets in the T20I series against Sri Lanka. In the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka, Malik picked three in Guwahati and two in Kolkata for India to take a 2-0 unassailable lead in the series.

With 2023 being an ODI World Cup year and India set to organise the mega event in October and November, former India left-arm pacer R.P. Singh thinks Malik will be in the reckoning for the quadrennial 50-over affair.

“If you see the current situation, Umran Malik has got the pace and he’s slowly improving from a skill point of view and he can be a man for the long run. If you have a bowler who can bowl at 150+ speed and can make him bowl well with good skills, then he can be kept in the reckoning.”

“See, pace is pace and on wickets where there isn’t much spark, then the pace will be helpful for a team and can shake up opposition batters. But it needs to be seen how an important player like him can be nurtured and make him play the right way with ample rest so that he serves team and country very well and keep him safe from being injured,” he said in a virtual interaction organised by Sports18.

Apart from Malik, young right-arm pacer Shivam Mavi had a good start to his T20I career, picking 4/22 against Sri Lanka in Mumbai. Though he went wicketless in the next two T20Is, Singh thinks Mavi can be kept in the playing mix for the format with a T20 World Cup happening in 2024.

“He’s been a part of the Uttar Pradesh team and (I) have seen him at their academy many times. He’s an inswing bowler and has got the speed too. But there are three to four things which I see in a T20 bowler, like having a yorker, which isn’t that high for Mavi. He has the yorkers, but it would be only four out of ten times. It is something which he has to improve upon as he continues to be in the scheme of things.”

Singh, who is currently a part of the Sports18 Expert Panel for SA20, was also impressed with how Jofra Archer fared in his comeback game after a long absence due to injuries and surgeries. Playing for MI Cape Town against Paarl Royals, Archer, 27, needed three balls to get his first wicket in Wihan Lubbe, after an absence of 541 days. Overall, he picked 3/27 while bowling 12 dot balls in his four overs.

“He’s played only two matches, but he’s making a comeback to cricket after a little more than a year and a half. Staying out for so long is very difficult for any bowler. But some things which I see as a fast bowler, like how the run-up and follow through is, the spark in the ball, bounce it fetches and the areas where one is bowling at.”

“So, all of those things have been fulfilled by Jofra Archer. He didn’t use to bend his back much previously, and he doesn’t even do that today as well. But when you tick certain boxes after coming back from injury, for me, he has ticked four boxes.”

“He’s a very experienced player and has played a lot of matches. But when someone is coming back after a long hiatus, then it takes time to build up for match preparation. The more matches he plays, the better will be his rhythm,” he elaborated.

Singh also felt that having a tournament like SA20 will give South Africa lots of young talent for the international stage. “According to me, cricket has to be better and to find local talent, the best way to find that is T20 cricket because the number of players increases. Also, the exposure of a player increases.”

“In our case, we were already there and established in the Indian team when the IPL arrived and we then gave it a push. As per the new trends, one gets to learn a lot by being with senior players. As per my view, having T20 leagues in the world will give a platform to those players to emerge as a new, exciting talent.”

All SA20 matches are live on JioCinema, Sports18-1, Sports18-1 HD, Sports18 Khel and Colors Tamil.

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