The one cricketer who remained the cynosure through the build-up of the entire five-match T20I series against South Africa and through the contest as well was Umran Malik. Cricket fans yearned to see him make debut for India after his impressive show in IPL 2022 and amid many veterans and experts backing him for India’s T20 World Cup squad. However, India backed their first-choice players throughout the series, keeping their XI unchanged as Umran warmed the bench. Despite the wait, former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan has made the case for Umran’s World Cup selection.
India named a 18-member squad for the T20I series against South Africa and Umran was one of them, who earned his maiden call-up following an impressive show in IPL 2022. While he did not get a game in the series, selectors have retained him for the tour of Ireland where India will be playing two T20Is later this month.
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Speaking to Star Sports on Umran’s chances of selection in India’s T20 World Cup squad, Irfan said, “He has not yet played; he has still not made his debut. First make him debut, see how he goes when he makes his debut. But if he makes his debut and god forbid if it does not go well, don’t leave him aside.
“We have never had a bowler who bowls at 150 kph; now we have got that, so take him for the long haul carefully. You have to see what is his longevity, how long his fitness is going to take him.”
The legendary all-rounder hailed the youngster for his unique attribute – his raw pace – and urged the selectors and the team management to persist with him and take him along forward.
“One thing he has got is raw pace, which you either have, or you don’t. You cannot teach anyone to bowl fast, whether it is Irfan Pathan or the world’s best mentor or coach, you can only make him better,” he said.
“You can do the fine-tuning; we have done that; the Indian team will make it even better. But if it is the question of the squad, get him to make his debut; if he does well, take him forward, and if he doesn’t do well, persist with him because you don’t get such a bowler every time.”