Umran Malik touched down in his hometown on Tuesday after flying high in IPL 2022 for the last few months. Coming back home for the first time since becoming a household name with his speed-gun-breaking exploits for Sunrisers Hyderabad, he gifted his father a Thar car as the whole of Jammu celebrated his call-up to the Indian team.
The 22-year-old was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Sunrisers, pocketing 21 wickets in 13 matches besides winning 14 consecutive awards for the fastest delivery bowled in a match.
Thanks to his stunning show in the cash-rich league over the past couple of months, Umran received his maiden India call-up for the upcoming T20I series against South Africa.
Umran's father Abdul Rashid was unable to contain his emotions while talking to The Bridge about his son's call-up to the Indian team.
"I got to know about the news via a phone notification. As the word spread people lined up to congratulate me. What could be more prestigious for a cricketer than donning the national colours? The way the entire nation has rallied behind Umran so far, I can only be grateful. Pure desh ka support mila mere Umran ko (my Umran has the support of the entire nation)," Rashid, who sells fruits for a living states.
Rashid states that it was not surprising because he felt Umran was always in contention to get selected following his 21 wickets in IPL and raw pace.
He, however, refuses to take any credit for helping Umran reach to the level he has reached.
"Umran was certain that he would succeed one day. He believed in himself and worked hard to improve his skills. It is solely due to his efforts and the blessings of God. He worked hard and received assistance from God. I am unworthy of praise for his efforts," Rashid says.
Umran started got into cricket by playing in the sandy riverbanks of Tawi River.
"Our home is close to the Tawi River, which primarily has sandy riverbanks. Umran spent his childhood playing cricket and running on sandy plains. As a result, his lower body is really strong. You won't find many people that had such a terrific physical structure and in-built strength at the age of 17 without ever going to the gym," says Umran's father.
Wearing the India Blue shirt is a lifelong ambition for Umran, who is unperturbed about how IPL riches and an India call-up might affect change his family's financial situation.
"He has gifted me a car with his earnings from this IPL. We have always kept him cheerful and never let him know about his problems. He received everything he requested. More than I, my wife is his most ardent supporter. This is one of the reasons why he is not concerned about finances or anything else," Rashid expresses his concerns.
Their Gujjar Nagar neighbourhood has erupted in joy, with exuberant young people waving posters of the players and dancing to the beat of the drums ever since the news of Umran being named in the Indian team has flashed across TV channels.
"All we ask from Umran is to make the country proud with his performances. Nothing else matters to us," says one of his neighbours.
The matches of the South Africa series will be held in Delhi, Cuttack, Visakhapatnam, Rajkot, and Bengaluru. Is Rashid planning to watch his son play?
"His mother and I will be in the stands on his debut day to cheer him. But, for the time being, please excuse me. Umran had cautioned me not to speak to the media," Rashid chuckles cutting the conversation short.