NEW DELHI: “Find of the tour for shoring up the bowling attack the way he did – Mohd Siraj.” – that’s what India Head coach Ravi Shastri tweeted after Siraj’s stellar show helped India clinch their second consecutive Border-Gavaskar title triumph. The 26-year-old signed off the series as the highest wicket-taker for his team, claiming 13 wickets in 3 Tests, including one five-wicket haul.
After an impressive show in the series Down Under, it wasn’t a surprise to see Siraj’s name in the India squad that was announced for the first two Tests vs England at home. And, the Hyderabad born pacer is raring to go at full throttle against the Three Lions. The opening Test will be played at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram stadium from February 5.
“I just want to perform for my country. I want to help the team win the England series the way I did in Australia. The Australia series was a big opportunity for me. I am sure I will continue the good show against England as well,” Siraj told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.
“There was a lot that I learnt from the Australia series. From sharing dressing rooms to net sessions, I learned a lot from the seniors like Pujara, Ajji bhaia (Ajinkya Rahane), Shami bhai, Rohit bhaia and coach Ravi sir. I want to use that knowledge now against England,” the 26 year old further said.
During the Australia tour, Siraj got the chance to rub shoulders with seniors pros like Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, and Jasprit Bumrah till ultimately by the time India were playing the last Test in Brisbane, he had become the pace spearhead.
Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj. (AFP Photo)
Though the likes of Shami, Umesh, and Bumrah suffered injuries at different stages of the tournament, they were available whenever Siraj needed their guidance, especially in the fourth Test in Brisbane.
Siraj was handed a debut in the Melbourne Test (Boxing Day Test) after senior pacer Shami was ruled out of the series due to a fractured wrist. He took five wickets in his maiden outing (2 in the first innings and 3 in the second) in India’s win to level the series 1-1. He then bagged 2 wickets in the Sydney Test, which resulted in a draw.
In the crucial Brisbane Test, Siraj showed magnificent resilience and bagged his maiden five-wicket haul and played a vital role in India’s historic series-clinching win.
“I am so happy with my performance. Got to learn a lot from Shami bhai, Umesh bhai, and Bumrah. They gave me a lot of tips. Shami bhai and Ravi Shastri sir taught me how to handle pressure. I will apply that in the England series as well,” Siraj further told TimesofIndia.com.
PLAYING ALONGSIDE ISHANT SHARMA
Apart from Siraj, Team India will have their regular Test fast bowling spearhead Ishant Sharma who is back after recuperating fully from injury, Jasprit Burmah and Shardul Thakur in their pace department for the first two Tests vs England. Siraj is excited to bowl alongside Ishant in the series.
Siraj celebrates after taking a wicket. (Reuters Photo)
“It doesn’t matter whether I am playing at home or away, my performances and winning matches for my team have always mattered to me the most. I am all prepared for the England series,” he said.
“I have bowled alongside Bumrah, Shami bhai, and Shardul. They are part of the series (vs England). I am so excited now to bowl alongside Ishant Sharma. It is going to be a huge learning curve for me,” Siraj signed off.
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