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Watching Lucknow Super Giants’ Mayank Yadav notch up 150kph-plus deliveries against Royal Challengers Bengaluru would have reminded Sunrisers Hyderabad fans of their very own Umran Malik, who had burst onto the scene and rattled the batters with his thunderbolts.

However, since his breakthrough season in 2022, where he picked up 22 wickets at an average of 20.18, and an economy rate of 9.03, Malik has gone off the boil.

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Last season, he made eight appearances for the franchise and picked five wickets while giving away 10.85 runs an over. If someone is as quick as Malik his ability to pick wickets takes precedence over his economy rate.

On the eve of the match, Sunrisers Hyderabad’s head coach Daniel Vettori said, “He is certainly within the plans. In the second game against Mumbai, he became an impact player (one over for 15 runs). We have observed him in the training and have been impressed with everything he has done.”

The surfaces in Hyderabad have not helped Malik this season. So far they have got slower as the match progressed and brought into play bowlers who have mastery over using slower cutters. “The number of surfaces we have played on have been conducive to slower-ball cutters,” Vettori said.”

Slower-ball cutters are not Umran’s strength.

“We know Umran’s strength is bowling fast and hitting the length. When we see that opportunity we will
take it,” Vettori added.

When the Jammu and Kashmir pacer did well for SRH in 2022, the majority of IPL was played in Mumbai and Pune where the red-soil pitches offered bounce and were quick enough, which suited his style of bowling.

In addition to the surfaces not supporting him in Hyderabad last season, then skipper Aiden Markram and head coach Brian Lara could not find the right role for him in the bowling unit.

Markram would use Malik in the Powerplay. Using Malik after the powerplay would have given the 24-year-old a bit of leeway —with protection available outside the 30-yard ring — if he was not accurate enough.

Against Gujarat Titans in the previous game, one thing SRH skipper Pat Cummins struggled was to manage the overs of his spinners in the middle. He also would have wished for a genuine wicket-taker in the same phase. Since the departure of Rashid Khan the side has lacked the middle-overs enforcer. Mayank Markande, who was supposed to create the breakthroughs, has started the season poorly going at 11.27 from three games.

This is where there is an opportunity for SRH to use Malik as a middle-over enforcer in the ongoing season, similar to Mayank (yadav) role for LSG. Mayank has bowled all but one over inside the Powerplay.

Under Kane Williamson, Malik was used in the middle overs with fielders placed on square boundaries and behind the wicket to grab opportunities produced by the hurried pull shots and ramp shots induced by the extreme pace.

Malik’s spell against Gujarat Titans at Wankhede, when he picked up five wickets, was the young pacer operating at the peak of his powers. Shubman Gill who is one of the better players of quick bowling had trouble facing Malik. This pace combined with Williamson’s smart field placement forced Gill to dance down the track and look to play 150kph delivery through covers, which he missed and got bowled.

Not only can Malik’s inclusion help the team control the middle overs, but it can also add outright pace to a bowling attack which comprises medium pacers like Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan and Jaydev Unadkat.

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