The Men in Blue set a 307-run target for the Kiwis after being asked to bat first at Eden Park in Auckland. Malik then returned figures of 2/66 in his 10 overs on his ODI debut. However, he could not stop Kane Williamson and Co. from registering a comfortable seven-wicket win with 17 deliveries to spare.
During a post-match discussion on Prime Video, Agarkar was asked about his thoughts on Malik bowling fast but lacking a little bit in accuracy. He responded:
“There are lots of bowlers who bowl line and length, there are very few who can get it up to 150 and that’s a special ability to have. So you have got to nurture it and you have got to give him that confidence.”
The former Indian pacer reckons the Jammu speedster had an excellent day. He reasoned:
“When someone is as raw as he is, I think he had a brilliant day. He gave India the control, he gave India the wickets which kept India in the game. I know Shreyas (Iyer) said that they thought they were above par but with the dimensions of this ground and if there is a set batter, it becomes very difficult to stop.”
Agarkar added that an express pacer cannot be expected to be accurate. He elaborated:
“He gave India the wickets that they needed – Conway and then Mitchell. So he got India back in the game, bowled exceptionally well. We don’t expect a young bowler, who is a tearaway, to come and bowl every ball on the right line and lengths. That is what gives them the X-factor.”
Malik had Devon Conway caught by Rishabh Pant behind the wickets for his maiden ODI wicket. He then had Daryl Mitchell caught by Deepak Hooda at deep backward point to reduce the hosts to 88/3 in the 20th over of their chase.
“He had a terrific debut and lots to look forward to” – Ajit Agarkar on Umran Malik
Agarkar concluded by reiterating that the SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) pacer made a promising debut. He stated:
“He was very impressive because he showed that control at the start. Towards the end, when there is a set batter, it doesn’t matter how experienced you are, or how good you are, or how quick you are, it’s always going to be difficult. I think he had a terrific debut and lots to look forward to.”
Malik picked up two wickets and conceded only 19 runs in the first five overs he bowled. He proved expensive towards the latter stages of the New Zealand innings, with Tom Latham using his pace to strike a few boundaries.
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