SPO_220627 UMRAN MALIK-1656343883807
Indian pacer Umran Malik (left) bowls during the Twenty20 International against Ireland at Malahide Cricket Club in Dublin on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: When Umran Malik got his India cap from veteran pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, all eyes were on the tearaway fast bowler, who came with the big reputation of bowling in the mid-150 kmph.

However, what transpired in the single over that Umran Malik bowled in the first Twenty20 International against Ireland is the hunter became the hunted, after being hit for 14 runs.

The Indian pacer didn’t clock past the 150-mark and Ireland’s Harry Tector played some delectable shots that made one wonder if it is the same fast bowler who was making the batters hop in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL). Welcome to international cricket, where raw pace alone will be treated with disdain. But it is too early to judge Umran Malik, who certainly has done far better than some of the legends of the game in his first game on the international arena.

Pressure of living up to expectations

Shane Wane had figures of one for 150 runs in his debut Test, but what he achieved in the end is for everyone to see as the second highest wicket-taker in the history of the game with 708 scalps. In his debut game, a player goes through a mix of emotions and the biggest nemesis will be that the pressure of living up to the expectations and the eagerness to prove he belongs to that place. Sometimes, it takes a few matches to get to terms with the situation.

In the coming game, the nerves will ease for Umran Malik and will be able to focus on the actual task on hand and bowl at his full pace and potential.

Big thing to play for India

Stand-in skipper Hardik Pandya has backed the pacer to come good. “When you play for India for the first time, and the journey he has taken, it’s important to give such a bowler and such a talent time,” said Pandya, who vowed the cricketing world with his leadership qualities in guiding debutants Gujarat Titans to their maiden IPL title last month, after winning the first Twenty20.

“Whether it was a good day or a bad day is irrelevant. For him, just to play for India is itself a very big thing, and that is something which I’m very happy for, (irrespective) of how the result went, good or bad, it’s OK.

“I want to let him enjoy this moment because it doesn’t come every time. A debut happens only once.”

The current Indian team set-up also includes Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who played along with him for Sunrisers Hyderabad, and coach V.V.S. Laxman, who was the mentor for SRH. With all the positive pointers, Umran Malik is in the right place to deliver what everyone has been eagerly awaiting for. His real talents could come to the fore when he marks a fresh run-up during the second Twenty20 against Ireland at Malahide on Tuesday.