South African pacer Anrich Nortje dismissed talks of comparison between himself and his Indian counterpart Umran Malik ahead of the 4th T20I in Rajkot. Both bowlers are known to hit the 150kmph mark on a consistent basis and are among the fastest on the international circuit at the moment.
Nortje came into the series on the back of an injury that caused him to miss the home series against India and a section of the Indian Premier League (IPL) as well. The pacer is still finding his rhythm in the ongoing T20Is in the subcontinent.
The 28-year-old has three wickets to his name in the series so far but holds an economy of 10.25.
Terming that his sole focus is on preparation rather than outpacing Malik’s speed, Nortje said during a press conference ahead of the 4th T20I:
“Yeah, at this stage, I am not bothered about who is the fastest (bowler). Not really bothered about it who is the fastest and what the speed gun is, it is about contributing for the team.”
The right-arm pacer added:
When I do train, when I am not playing, you obviously think about how can you get fast with the way you train, whatever you are doing. In the back of my mind, it would be something I will keep on striving towards but it is not something I think about when I go to the field.”
South Africa have assembled a potent pace battery led by Kagiso Rabada for the ongoing series. Despite Nortje being far from his best, the bowling attack has done well to largely restrict the Indian batting unit.
“If he gets faster, great for him” – Anrich Nortje on Umran Malik
The Jammu and Kashmir pacer was rewarded with a maiden call-up to the national side following a fruitful IPL 2022 campaign for the SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH). The 22-year-old was adjudged the Emerging Player of the Season after claiming 22 wickets in 14 matches.
India have so far stuck with the same bowling combination for the first three contests. The likes of Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh are still awaiting their maiden appearance with two must-win matches to go.
Claiming that he is not in cut-throat competition with Malik over who can bowl faster, Nortje added:
“Umran Malik very good bowler, very fast bowler. He has shown what he can do. If he gets faster, great for him. If I get faster, great for me. I do not think we are at the stage where we are competing to bowl the fastest ball, it is about winning games and trying to contribute.”
An interesting battle would ensue if Umran Malik is handed his debut cap in the 4th T20I.
India and South Africa will compete in the penultimate match of the series in Rajkot tomorrow (June 17).