Umran Malik
Indian pacer Umran Malik celebrates with century-maker Deepak Hooda, Harshal Patel and Dinesh Karthik after guiding India to a four-run win in the second Twenty20 International on Tuesday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Indian skipper Hardik Pandya giving the ball to rookie Umran Malik to bowl the last over shows that another great leader is born in international cricket.

The first time something like this was witnessed was more than 15 years ago. Rewind to 2007, the Twenty20 World Cup final between India and Pakistan. The contest between the two Asian heavyweights is always high on drama and needless to say with 13 runs needed off the last six balls, the newly appointed skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni turned to rookie Joginder Sharma, who gave India five-run win.

A masterstroke

Similarly, when Ireland were going all out to overwhelm a mammoth total set by India in the second Twenty20 International on Tuesday, Pandya, who is leading the Men in Blue for the first time in his career, turned to rookie Umran Malik.

Despite coming in with a big reputation in the recently concluded Indian Premier League, Umran Malik has not been as effective in his second match for India. It’s understandable for someone to have a slow start in international arena. But the biggest question was, will he be able to contain the rampaging Irish batters in a small ground when just 17 was required? Even an edge could fly to the boundary!

But just the way Dhoni’s move turned into a masterstroke, Pandya’s gamble paid off and the pacer gave India an improbable four-run win.

Umran Malik action
Rookie pacer Umran Malik is still not performing at his best, however his last over on Tuesday will help him boost his self-confidence. Image Credit: AFP

“Not worried to be honest [about the final over]. Wanted to keep pressure out of my equation, wanted to be in the present. I backed Umran since he has pace. With his pace, it’s difficult for people to hit. I think we’ve come to play a game of cricket, so Ireland were going to show us what they have. Credit to them, they played amazing shots. At the same point of time, credit to our bowlers to cross the line,” said captain Hardik Pandya after the match on giving Malik final over.

Different stage and different opposition

In comparision to the two feats, the stage is not as huge and the quality of opposition is hugely different. But the process is the same. Winning the confidence of a skipper will go a long way in helping a player to maximise his potential. This one over will do a world of good to Umran Malik’s future as he will approach the popping crease with a better confidence than he did during the IPL 2022.

Umran Malik holding his nerve in the final over against Ireland also got praise from death-over specialist pacer Harshal Patel. “(He) held his nerve, the way the game was going the momentum was with the batting unit. The way he finished was exceptional. We were comfortable with 225, and most times you defend it.”

Incidentally, the World Cup final was the last of the four Twenty20 games that Joginder Sharma had played for India. Hopefully, the pace ace will have a long run and many more wickets in his bag.