Ranji Trophy | It was about changing Umran’s mindset: J&K’s bowling coach Krishnakumar

Updated - February 12, 2024 06:56 am IST

Published - February 11, 2024 10:30 pm IST - PUDUCHERRY

Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) bowling coach P. Krishnakumar on Sunday said that he had to change India pacer Umran Malik’s mindset to make him feel confident of pitching the ball up and swinging it both ways at his natural speed.

“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 pitching has gone between 6 and 7 metres 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 between 6 and 7 metres, 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. “Obviously, we had a long chat. He has played for India, he knows everything. It was more about changing his mindset. That was very important. Because, he had the mindset, ‘I will bowl quick.’ At the end of the day, the right-hand column (wickets column in the bowling analysis) is very important in Indian cricket. We go by quantity. You have 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, I feel the right-hand column is very important.”

The 50-year-old said he kept sending Umran video clips of great pacers to force the change in mindset. “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. You have to pitch it up there if you want to take wickets in international cricket.”

“Almost everyday, he was getting a video. So, then, it changes the mindset. Now, he’s bowling fantastically well and I think he should get a nod in the Indian team.”

Former Rajasthan pacer, Krishnakumar had to bust the myth 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, and it goes into the mind. So, I forced him by sending the videos to think like that (differently). Like, ‘No, I can swing it.’”

“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 kph.’ 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 fantastically well.” Now, he’s saying, ‘Sir, I’m very, very confident that I can pitch it (up) there.’”

On his first season with the Jammu & Kashmir team now, 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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