Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) bowling coach P. Krishnakumar on Sunday said that he had to change India pacer Umran Malik’s mindset and boost his confidence to allow him to swing the ball.
“Earlier, he was pitching it a little short and was not able to swing the ball regularly. But now, he’s swinging the ball regularly, and his length has gone between six-to-seven-metre (mark) which is fantastic.
“He also feels like, ‘I’m confident that I can pitch it there.’ If you want to play at the international level, I feel you have to go to that channel, then only you can get the edges,” he said after Jammu & Kashmir’s 19-run win over Pondicherry at the Cricket Association of Pondicherry (CAP) Siechem ground here.
The coach said he had a long chat with the pacer on his absence from the National squad. “He has played for India, he knows everything. It was more about changing his mindset. He had the mindset of simply bowling quick. But at the end of the day, the wickets column is very important in Indian cricket. We go by quantity. You need to have wickets if you want to get selected. There’s no doubt he has been given a lot of chances to play for India on the basis of the talent he has. But at the end of the day, wickets are very important.”
The 50-year-old said he sent Malik video clips of great pacers to help him. “What I did was, I sent him almost 100 videos - of (James) Anderson, of (Andrew) Flintoff, and all the great bowlers. I forced him to think that he has to pitch it up there if he wants to take wickets in international cricket.
“Almost everyday, he was getting a video. It changes the mindset. Now, he’s bowling well and I think he should get a nod in the Indian team.”
The former Rajasthan pacer, Krishnakumar, had to break the bowler’s notion that it’s hard to control the ball when bowling at great speed. “Dale Steyn, Brett Lee, (Jasprit) Bumrah... There are a lot of examples. There are a lot of myths going around. Because he’s a young boy, he listens to all those myths. So, I forced him by sending the videos to think that he can swing the ball.
“When I joined (the J&K team), he was not sure. He said, ‘Sir, I don’t think it’ll swing that much at 150 kmph.’ So, I told him and he did it himself. Then, he was like, ‘Sir, it’s happening!’ The ball is moving and he’s swinging the ball both ways now.”
He referred to Umran’s bowling against Delhi and Odisha in the ongoing Ranji Trophy to highlight that his ward has imbibed the guidance to bowl better.
“You should have seen his bowling against Delhi and Odisha. You should see the videos. He bowled brilliantly. It was unlucky that he couldn’t get wickets, but he bowled well. Now, he’s saying, ‘Sir, I’m confident that I can pitch it (up).’”
In his first season with the Jammu & Kashmir team, Krishnakumar says that he had to earn the pacer’s trust in him. “The best part about Umran is that he listens to things properly and he applies it. But as a coach, that trust, I had to develop with him since it’s my first year. Now, the trust is there since things have been happening. I was telling, ‘See this will happen,’ and that happened.”
Asked for the standout quality in Umran, he said: “I think he’s very down to earth, even after playing for India. He’s always eager to learn. That eagerness is there and that I think is the standout quality of Umran.”
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