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File photo: Umran Malik of Sunrisers Hyderabad celebrates the wicket of Ishan Kishan of Mumbai Indians during the Vivo Indian Premier League match between the Mumbai Indians and the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: ANI

Dubai: The Indian Premier League has numerous rags to riches story in its history, but sun certainly shines brightly on some of the newcomers. The latest to get fast-tracked into the big league is the Jammu and Kashmir pacer Umran Malik.

Malik becomes the third such fabled story in Sunrisers Hyderabad ranks, following in the footsteps of Mohammad Siraj and T. Natarajan in the Hyderabad ranks.

The 21-year-old Malik was roped in as a short-term Covid-19 replacement for Natarajan, who had tested positive ahead of Hyderabad’s encounter against Delhi Capitals on September 22.

Malik came into Hyderabad playing XI in place of pacer Sandeep Sharma.

Then as they say is history. After clocking impressive pace, Malik got the chance to showcase his wares when he clocked 153kmph in the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore and his pace caught the eye of the world, including Indian skipper Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson.

While Williamson called him a “special” talent, Kohli said that India needs to nurture him to “maximise the potential of our fast bowling stocks”.

His immediate reward is that Umran Malik will be staying back in the UAE after his stint with Sunrisers, which finished at the league stage, as he has been inducted as a net bowler for the Indian team for the Twenty20 World Cup.

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File photo: Umran Malik of Sunrisers Hyderabad celebrates the wicket of KS Bharat of Royal Challengers Bangalore during the match at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.

How it all started

Talking about the childhood, his father Abdul Rashid Malik in an exclusive interview over phone told Gulf News on the trials and tribulations the family has undergone over the years. Hailing from Gujjar Nagar in Jammu and Kashmir, Abdul Rashid did not allow anything that could be a hurdle in young Umran’s dream.

“Ours is not a financially well off family, but I have never let anything come in before Umran’s passion for cricket. He started throwing balls when he was just 3 or 4 years old.

“When he was young, he would come back from school, drop his bag and go off to play cricket. His mother would often tell him to eat first but this kid was so passionate about the game. As a family we encouraged him at every step.”

Since his teens, Umran wanted to represent the country and when he was selected by Sunrisers, Abdul Rashid said he knew his son would make a big mark.

“I sell fruits in Jammu and Kashmir to make a living but we ensured that Umran gets to follow his dreams. It makes my chest swell with pride that he is doing so well in the IPL in the UAE.”

“Often he would come back home late after practice sessions, greatly worrying me but he would reassure me that there was nothing to fear and he stays out to play cricket only,” he added.

“I was watching him play on TV along with my wife and other children [two daughters]. We had tears of joy to see him perform so well in the IPL,” said a proud father.

Umran Malik of Sunrisers Hyderabad
Umran Malik of Sunrisers Hyderabad Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

Umran’s father had a special praise for former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan, who is the mentor of the state team.

“Irfan Pathan’s visits to Jammu and Kashmir were very helpful. He inspired many youngsters, including Umran. His tips and advice helped Umran fine-tune his cricketing temperament.”

Accolades have been pouring in for the special talent since the time it was on display at the speed gun during the IPL.

“J&K Lt Governor Sahib congratulated us on Umran’s performance. As a humble parent, this is a dream come true for me as well. I know Allah will guide Umran as he continues to make India proud.”