22-year-old Umran Malik from J&K rockets into Team India

MUMBAI: Tearaway pacer Umran Malik, who’s rocked the Indian Premier League with his thunderbolts, has earned a much-anticipated call-up to the Indian team for the five-match T20I series against South Africa, which will kick off on June 9 in Delhi. Malik, 22, son of a fruit seller in Jammu, has been generating fearsome pace above 150kmph on a regular basis.

His hostile spells for Sunrisers Hyderabad have had batsman hopping, fans cheering and pundits calling for his inclusion in Team India. All-time great Dale Steyn, who’s mentoring Malik at SRH, hailed him as a superstar in the making.

Batting for J&K’s express fast bowler Umran Malik, former Team India coach Ravi Shastri recently said he should be given a central contract by the Indian cricket board (BCCI) right away and carefully nurtured, while former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh believes he needs to be in the squad for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year. ”

Woh apni pace se wahan logon ke sar phad dega (He’ll break batsmen’s heads there with his pace),” Singh quipped at an event recently. The excitement is understandable. Earlier this week, Malik won his 13th consecutive award for the fastest delivery in the match in IPL 2022 when he clocked 154.8 kmph. He can go faster – he hit a top speed of 157 kmph against Delhi Capitals on May 5.

Many believe he could top a recorded speed of 100 miles per hour (160kmph), which so far has been the exclusive preserve of Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee. Malik first turned heads with his pace last year, when he got to play only a handful of IPL matches. Impressed with what they saw, the SRH think-tank chose to retain him ahead of this year’s mega auction.

It was a huge gamble on an uncapped youngster, but Malik has more than repaid their faith this year, taking21 wickets in 13 games, with his best haul being 5/25 (before Sunrisers’ last league game, against Punjab Kings, on Sunday). The last J&K cricketer to play for India was off-spinner Parvez Rasool, who played an ODI and aT20I in 2017.

No J&K player has ever played a Test for India yet, but if Umran repeats his IPL heroics on the international stage, it may be only a matter of time. The rest of the team selection was on expected lines. As predicted by TOI, Punjab and Punjab Kings left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh too earned his maiden India call-up for the T20Is against the Proteas.

The 23-year-old has been outstanding at the death, where his ability to keep calm under pressure and deliver pinpoint yorkers at will has proved invaluable for his team.

Arshdeep earns India call-up, Rahul to captain in South Africa T20 series in Rohit’s absenceWith regular captain Rohit Sharma, along with other senior all-format players Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohamed Shami being rested, KL Rahul will lead India in the T20I series.

A day after he declined to take a review opportunity that perhaps cost his team, Delhi Capitals, a place in the playoffs, Rishabh Pant had some consolation when he was named as Rahul’s deputy. It was speculated that Shikhar Dhawan would lead the Indian T20I side, but he hasn’t even been picked in the squad, which means the selectors are now clearly looking beyond him in T20Is.

Having slammed four consecutive centuries for Sussex in county cricket, Cheteshwar Pujara earned a well-deserved recall into India’s 17-member Test side for the England tour. He will join Rohit, Kohli, Bumrah and Shami, who all fly to England on June 15 for the one-off Test against England at Edgbaston from July 1-5 – the fifth match from last year’s series, which had been postponed following a Covid scare. It has been reported that VVS Laxman will be the coach of Team India for the T20Is, with Rahul Dravid taking charge of the England tour, but the BCCI’s release on Sunday was silent on the issue.