How Omran Malik became an icon of young Kashmiri cricketers Cricket news

Jammu, India-administered Kashmir A group of youngsters play cricket in the morning on a small field on the banks of the Tavi River in the Gujar Nagar area of ​​Jammu city.

A 12-year-old boy is running holding a tennis ball firmly in his right hand

The ball, with fast bowling and all its strength, goes past the batsman and hits a rock marked on the wicket.

Excited, the bowler proudly walked a few yards towards the batsman and said: “Omran Malik’s pace game is not easy.”

The comment caused a stir and laughter from the people around them and it was also a testament to the rise of a Kashmiri star in the world of cricket.

The fruit seller’s son, Malik was hired as a Sunrisers net bowler but when Thangarasu Natarajan was dropped from the tournament due to Kovid, Malik was taken into the team.

Malik, 21, delivered the fastest ball in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021, an Indian T20 league event, at 153kmph (95mph).

He became an instant star. And the few IPL matches he has played for Sunrisers Hyderabad have been praised by many, including Indian captain Virat Kohli, for running at more than 150kmph (93mph) on a regular basis.

“This tournament throws talent every year. It’s nice to see a guy bowling at 150 [kmph]. It’s important to understand the progress of individuals from here, ”Kohli said.

Little boys play cricket on the banks of the Tawi River in the Gujar Nagar area of ​​Jammu [Bilal Kuchay/Al Jazeera]

He added that a strong pool of fast bowlers is “always a good sign for Indian cricket and whenever you see such talent, you look at them and make sure you maximize their potential as already seen. IPL level”.

His speed also garnered praise from sports experts.

Former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop says the owner has really got all the qualities of a “powerful weapon”.

“The owner has the pace, which is hard to find. It’s a rare product, “he told ESPNcricinfo.

Indian commentator Hersha Vogle said Malik was not “just in tears” and looked like a “right bowler” who needed to be taken care of.

In 2018, Malik was selected for the Jammu and Kashmir Under-19 team. He went on to play in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, India’s domestic Twenty20 cricket championship and the Ranji One-Day Trophy.

Although Sunrisers Hyderabad have not had a good season in this year’s IPL – at the end of the table – for the owner, voters have opened up new opportunities.

He was asked to return to the United Arab Emirates after being selected as a net bowler with the Indian national team for the T20 World Cup.

At a young age, Malik was a regular on the field that youngsters played and displayed his accomplishments.

Here, patches, divided by holes and debris, are often doubled as pastures for sheep and buffalo.

“We are very happy to see our son play in the IPL and now he has been selected as the net bowler for the World Cup. He has made us all proud, ”his father, Abdul Rashid Malik, told Al Jazeera at their home in Jammu.

“He has always been a fan of cricket. He just loved cricket and we never stopped him from playing, ”he said. “We just pray that he plays for the Indian team now and makes his country proud.”

A banner has been put up in Umran’s hometown after his performance in the IPL [Bilal Kuchay/Al Jazeera]

The owner is the youngest and only son of three children. He grew up in a joint family in Gujarat and was cherished not only by his parents and two sisters, but also by all his relatives, his family said.

From childhood, he was attracted to cricket and traveled across the Jammu district to play tennis-ball tournaments.

The owner dropped out of school after 10th grade to focus more on cricket.

“We never scolded him for anything, at least for playing cricket even though he could play all day,” his father said.

“He always said‘ one day I will play for India ’, so we decided to let him play and save his dream,” he said, adding that he never wanted his son to help him or work in his fruit shop.

Along with his family and friends, Malik’s IPL performance is also bringing joy to the young cricketers in the region.

A banner with his picture and the words “Proud of Umran Malik” have been put up in his hometown.

His IPL performances have brought new strength to the cricketing youth in his area. They now want to bowl as fast as the owner or follow in his footsteps and work hard to get a place in the IPL.

Locals in Gujranwala told Al Jazeera that since Malik’s IPL, cricketing activities have suddenly increased and more boys are coming to play cricket.

The Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) office also cheered.

Sheikh Sharik – a young, six-foot-two-inch fast bowler from the Saida Kadal area of ​​Srinagar who has practiced with the owner in Jammu – has all the credit for his teammate.

“Omran is a huge inspiration for us,” Sharik told Al Jazeera at the JKCA office in Jammu where he was part of a training camp for the upcoming domestic cricket tournament.

“It gives us hope that if we work hard, we can make it big.”

Others believe the owner’s election has brought new strength to cricket players and children in the region.

“It boosts our confidence that Omran, who used to play on this field, is part of the Indian team today,” said another cricketer who played with Malik in the Under-23 domestic team.


Anil Gupta, a JKCA member, told Al Jazeera that Malik is now a “matter of pride” for all of them, especially the JKCA that “observed” him.

Gupta added that Malik was always inspired and very enthusiastic about his game and he dispelled the myth that Jammu makes good batsmen and Kashmir makes good fast bowlers.

“Even after playing very little in first-class cricket, he has risen to the top. It’s just hard work,” Gupta said, adding that passion for cricket across the Himalayan region would only grow after such feats.

He is soon to become an icon among the youth of Jammu and Kashmir.

JKCA fielding and fitness coach Nishant Bordoloi said that on Sunday morning, as he was entering the playground, he saw some children playing cricket nearby and heard one of them say that he was Omran Malik.

“It’s the inspiration we need right now,” he said. “The excitement among the youngsters to force the ball quickly and follow someone of their own, it brings a lot of excitement and emotion among the players.”

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