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India's Umran Malik (right) attends a practice session at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, ahead of their first One Day International against Australia. Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi: Former Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Akhtar has hailed the young Indian pace sensation Umran Malik and offered valuable advice to the youngster to polish his skills, saying that he shouldn’t reduce his aggression if even a batter hits him.

Umran caught the attention of the selectors with his raw pace during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022, where he bowled the fastest delivery of the league that time, clocking 157 kph against Delhi Capitals.

Soon, he got selected into the Indian T20I side and made a mark for the team against Ireland and later made his ODI debut against New Zealand the same year.

Shoaib Akhtar

“He is a really good bowler; has a powerful run-up, good arm speed. I want to say that; Umran quickly learns the bowling art and art of taking wickets. The art of wicket-taking is — never to reduce your aggression, never to think of bowling slow when the batsman is hitting you,” Akhtar told News24.

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Umran Malik needs to bowl from 26 yards to improve his muscle and the pace to break his record, says Akhtar. Image Credit: AFP

“Whenever you step onto the field just think that ownership of the ground has to be yours. It’s a great country you are playing for, so never let down your countrymen’s feelings,” he added.

The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ further said that he is sure that Umran will learn the skills in times to come and assured that he is ready to help if required.

Developing different muscles

Asked what a fast bowler needs to do to go from 157 kmph to 162, Akhtar said: “When I used to bowl, I used to do it from 26 yards and Umran used to do it from 22 yards. If he reaches 22 to 26 yards, he will develop different muscles. Sometimes the muscles get tired while bowling with one action, then the bowler tries a different action, using different muscles.”

Notably, Akhtar holds the record of having bowled the fastest ball ever in cricket history. He bowled a 161.3 kmph delivery against England during the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

“And if you want to break my record, please do. It’s been 20 years since I made that record, please break that record and I will be the first person to come and hug you,” he added.

Sachin Tendulkar with Virat Kohli
Comparisons between Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli is inevitable, but according to Akhtar, Tendulkar is the best. Image Credit: AFP

Tough target

Speaking about Virat Kohli’s form, the former Pakistan’s fast bowler called the stylish batter the greatest in the modern era and mentioned that it will be tough for him to score the next 25 hundred to equal Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 100 centuries.

Last week, Kohli ended the long wait of 1,205 days as he completed his Test century, his 75th international hundred, in the fourth Test of the Border Gavaskar Trophy against Australia at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Mental strength

“Captaincy affected him a lot. Finally, he is out of his shackles and enjoying his life… And, he is able to focus on his batting now, which he knows the best. And the next 25-20 centuries which he has to score to equal or break Sachin’s record, will be the toughest. But I am sure this guy has mental strength… He is the greatest batsman ever on the earth and Babar Azam will be right there in Kohli’s place but in 10 years time when Kohli will draw the curtain on his career,” he said.

“For me the No 1 is Sachin Tendulkar, but Virat in this day and age is the greatest,” he concluded.