Why Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik were given a cold shoulder this IPL

While they were expected to carry on in the same vein in the IPL 2023, it suddenly seems that the ecosystem is not treating Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik with enough respect

Urman Malik (left) Arshdeep Singh (right) (Photo: Twitter/@arshdeepsinghh/@umran_malik_01)
Urman Malik (left) Arshdeep Singh (right) (Photo: Twitter/@arshdeepsinghh/@umran_malik_01)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

It was only earlier this year that Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik were being considered as the next big things on the Indian pace bowling horizon. The duo, whose careers were fast-tracked after exciting performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL), struck a bond off the pitch – which was good news for the men in blue.

While they were expected to carry on in the same vein in the IPL 2023,  it suddenly seems that the ecosystem is not treating the duo with enough respect – and fingers are being pointed at their respective team managements rather than the think tank. The Punjab Kings seem to have suddenly lost faith in canny Singh after a handful of poor matches, while Malik got a look-in in just seven matches for his five wickets.

Left-armer Singh, who still belongs in the top-10 (ninth position) in the race for the Purple Cap with 17 wickets, came in for a bit of stick in the last two games. It’s only a part of the game, one would say, but former the Indian opener and TV pundit Akash Chopra feels that the young bowler has been marginalised.    

‘’Arshdeep started this tournament with being in the race for the purple cap but he’s not bowling with the new ball anymore. Isn’t bowling in the death either. And it’s not about the captaincy, I feel. The team management at PBKS should explain why and how Arshdeep has been marginalised,’’ Chopra did not mince words on Twitter.

The case of Malik, who finished the last season with 22 wickets and ushered in fans to the ground to watch his raw pace and ability to rattle the batsmen, is no less intriguing. If the early perception was that of an injury problem, two intriguing statements from the Sunrisers Head Coach and captain threatened to suggest an ownership interference on the issue.

While Brian Lara defended the decision to keep the Malik out as one based on ‘form,’ captain Aiden Markram was clearly at a loss to explain the decision.  “Not too sure to be honest. Certainly, he's (Malik) a player with the X factor, bowls at 150kph, but I don’t really know what’s about behind the scenes but he has a lot of X factor.”

The statement from Markram, new to the IPL captaincy, certainly deepens the mystery about Malik, who bowled only 17 overs in his seven matches – implying that he didn’t inspire enough confidence to bowl his full quota of overs. In the T20 format there is an even chance that the best of attacking fast bowlers can go for a few runs, but it’s the lack of transparency which has given rise to strong speculations.

 ‘’It looks like there are too many cooks in the kitchen,’’ remarked Tom Moody, who had been in the hot seat with the Hyderabad franchise during some of their best years. There are also parallels being drawn with the treatment meted out to their inspirational captain David Warner, who was unceremoniously released by the Orange Army before the mega auction last year.

Virender Sehwag, now a TV pundit and known not to pull back any punches, went to extent of saying that probably Malik had a spat with the management which may have cost his place in the team. The former dasher, however, felt that Malik ought to have strengthened his case by doing better with the ball in his ‘limited opportunities.’’

 Whatever be the reason, the best practices in such demanding situations for some of the most successful franchises had been to keep the faith on their serious talents with a future. This is where both the Punjab Kings and the Sunrisers Hyderabad have failed so far!

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