The Sunrisers Hyderabad team management has drawn flak for its poor handling of Umran Malik, who featured only in seven matches in IPL 2023 and last played on April 29 against Delhi Capitals.
The young speedster from Jammu had to warm the bench once again on Monday as Sunrisers Hyderabad squared off against Gujarat Titans at the Narendra Modi Stadium. Though Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed a five-for, the Sunrisers struggled to find breakthroughs until the 15th over and captain Aiden Markram had to try seven bowlers.
However, the Sunrisers head coach Brian Lara defended the decision to leave Umran out of the playing eleven, citing his poor form. The youngster, who was the flavour of the IPL in the last couple of editions for his ability to generate sheer pace, claimed five wickets with a best bowling figure of 2 for 35. While he failed to live up to the expectations, Umran had an economy rate of 10.35.
“You just have to look at the form of the player. We have great expectations of Umran, and he has got Dale Steyn to work with. But we have to play each game to win. We have to put our best eleven out on the field. And now, with the Impact Player, our best 12. It’s strictly on the fact that it’s about the form of the player that we look at before picking the team,” said Lara after his team lost its second consecutive match.
The omission of Umran, who has played eight ODIs and as many T20Is for India, has led to debates on whether the franchise utilised him properly. Recently, former India fast bowler and one of Umran’s mentors Irfan Pathan put out a tweet, saying: “League’s fastest bowler sitting out baffles me. Umran Malik wasn’t handled well by his team.”
Even Australia pace ace Brett Lee had told the broadcaster that the Hyderabad outfit hasn’t used its bowlers in the right positions. “I would love to see Umran Malik in the Powerplay. He has bowled once in a Powerplay this season and he went for 20-odd runs, but that was a one-off case. It’s almost like saying to a batter that you have to bat but if you get a duck you are never going to bat ever again. You need to have faith and you need to have a commitment in these guys coming through,” Lee had said.
But Lara, one of the legends of the game, backed his decision. “We have 25 players, and I would have liked you to ask about (Kartik) Tyagi because he is also a special talent and he’s only had one opportunity so far. I can’t see anything wrong in terms of selection. I just feel that every time the team gets on to the park, we are not playing the game that we are supposed to,” the former West Indies captain said.
With Umran warming the bench, Bhuvneshwar has spearheaded the team’s fast bowling department, claiming 14 wickets from 12 outings, and has been backed by T. Natarajan, who has picked up nine wickets so far.
Already out of the playoffs race, Sunrisers Hyderabad will play against Mumbai Indians in its last league fixture on Sunday.
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