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‘Throw him in at the deep end’ – Kevin Pietersen calls for India to pick Umran Malik for England Test

Kevin Pietersen Umran Malik
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Former England batting star Kevin Pietersen, commentating during IPL 2022, has urged the India team to introduce Umran Malik to Test cricket at the earliest, and build a fast-bowling group around him.

Umran, one of the breakout stars of this IPL, has impressed one and all with his fiery spells, clocking some of the fastest deliveries in the edition so far. He’s picked up 15 wickets in eight games at an average of 15.93 so far, having been retained by Sunrisers Hyderabad ahead of the auction this year. Although his team lost yesterday’s encounter against Gujarat Titans, he kept them alive with a rapid spell, claiming a career-best 5-25. This included an incredible pin-point yorker that ripped out opener Wriddhiman Saha’s stumps.

For a player garnering immense praise throughout the season, Umran gathered further applause from the on-air commentators Ian Bishop and Kevin Pietersen. When Bishop asked what lay ahead in the near future for the pacer, Pietersen responded by stating that the time was already ripe for Umran to be drafted into the India Test side.

“The deep end Bish, chuck him at the deep end. Chuck him in now. You can see he loves this. This is a huge, top of the table clash. He’s getting big wickets and he’s getting them out well. He has control, look at these yorkers he’s bowling.

“Just have a look at some of the great sides, some of the great Australian sides that we’ve played against, [they had] the Brett Lees, the Mitchell Johnsons. This guy is a Test bowler, no one likes to face this [pace].”

Pietersen further advocated the need for India to build their fast-bowling around Umran: “Look at those figures, 5-25, the best figures in this year’s IPL. You can bowl him for an over, bowl him for two overs, bowl him for three overs. Let him run in, bowl around him. Build your fast-bowling around him.”

Umran was fast-tracked into the India A red-ball setup, touring South Africa in November last year, after generating waves with his speed in the previous IPL. So far, he’s played three first-class games, picking up seven wickets at 41.28.

More praise was to come along Umran’s way when Sunil Gavaskar and Pietersen discussed the prospect during the post-match show, BYJU’s Cricket Live. Sunil Gavaskar thought that the youngster would benefit from travelling to England.

“He might not play in the XI,” Gavaskar said, “because India have got [Mohammed] Shami, they’ve got [Jasprit] Bumrah, and they’ve got Mohammad Siraj also, and there’s Umesh Yadav. But just travelling with this group, sharing the dressing room with Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli. Just look what is going to happen to him. So, yeah take him.”

Pietersen was still vehemently in favour of Umran, saying he should get into the XI immediately.

“I think so [on playing Umran]. I’m playing him. I’m gonna be calling that Test match, and he better be playing.”

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