KUALA LUMPUR: It will be a different ball game for Malaysia's top men's bowler Zulmazran Zulkifli this year.
The 19-year-old Zulmazran has been asked to change his bowling technique because he had struggled to cope with a wrist injury nagging him for the past two years.
And Zulmazran could find the going tough as he bid to win honours in the 2002 Aviva Asian Bowling Tour Grand Finals, which begin in Singapore on Thursday.
Zulmazran, who qualified for his second successive Finals as the second highest ranked bowler, is among the four Malaysians in the men's competition. The others are Alex Liew, Gerald Samuel and Daniel Lim.
Coach Holloway Cheah said that Zulmazran, a right-handed hook bowler, has been asked to improvise on his technique so as not to exert his wrist tendon.
The changes were made after Zulmazran came back with the national bowlers from the Hong Kong Open last December. The injury acted up again at the Milo International Junior All-Stars Championships and he failed to qualify for the boys' Masters Finals.
“This is not a new injury. He has been affected by it for the past two years and we want to prevent it from getting worse,” said Holloway.
“Zulmazran's condition is okay but he will have to release the ball with a more straightened hand. Because of this, the delivery may not be as strong as what he wants it to be.”
Initially, Zulmazran is expected to struggle to cope with the new technique but Holloway is confident that he will get used to it.
Zulmazran, who won the Philippines Open in his first international outing in 2001, is one of the country’s brightest talent and it is crucial that his progress is not hampered by injuries.
He won the Taiwan leg of the Asian Tour and represented the country in the AMF World Cup in Latvia last year.
“The important thing is we have to do something to prevent the problem from affecting his career. He is still young and has a very bright future ahead of him,” said Holloway.
Zulmazran left with the national squad three days ago to compete in the Singapore Open.
However, the Asian Tour’s Grand Finals are the priority for the 10 national bowlers, six of them women.
“Zulmazran is very focussed and wants to make the most out of his bowling career. I hope he can put up a good show in the Grand Finals,” said Holloway.
The Malaysian women in the Grand Finals fray are Busan Asian Games Masters gold medallist Shalin Zulkifli, Sarah Yap, Wendy Chai, Lai Kin Ngoh, Choy Poh Lai and Sharon Chai.