India pacer Mohammed Siraj on Thursday said that he would be forever indebted to the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore and skipper Virat Kohli for always believing in him. Before the series against Australia started, Siraj had lost his father. But the pacer decided to stay back in Australia to fulfill his father’s dream of seeing Siraj play Test cricket. “The trust that RCB and Virat Bhai have shown in me. RCB backed me throughout, I had a terrible season in 2018, but still, they retained me. Virat Bhai has always shown his support, he has always told me that I have the ability to perform on the big stage,” Siraj told reporters at a press conference in Hyderabad.
“I will take the confidence from this series to the next against England. Whatever team management decides, I will do just that. I am not thinking what will happen when (Mohammad) Shami and Umesh (Yadav) return,” he said.
Siraj’s hard work paid off on the fourth day of the fourth Test against Australia at The Gabba as he went on to register his maiden five-wicket haul. After returning from Australia, Siraj went to pay tribute to his late father. The Indian pacer played three Test matches on the tour and returned 13 wickets.
“Smith’s wicket was crucial, I had dropped his catch, then I was under pressure. But I got Smith out, it helped our team and I got a bit relaxed. I just want to keep performing for the team, I don’t intend to relax, I just want to continue my performances.”
“My favourite wicket was Marnus Labuschagne, it was a crucial wicket in the Test, I took two wickets in one over, so it was special,” said Siraj as he looked back at the historic win at The Gabba.
Commenting on bowling with Jasprit Bumrah in the second and third game, Siraj said: “Bumrah kept supporting me from the other end. I played two matches with him, he supported me throughout. I bowled a bad spell in the fourth Test, Bumrah bhai told me not to focus on that and be prepared for the next spell. After taking a five-wicket haul, I just hugged Bumrah bhai,” he added.
When asked how he felt about leading the Indian pace attack in the fourth Test, Siraj said: “I was just thinking I am playing for India A. I did not think that I was playing for India as it would have bought different pressure. Ajinkya Rahane trusted every youngster, he believed in all of us. He gave confidence to the likes of Shubman Gill, Shardul Thakur and this means a lot to any youngster. I have enjoyed under both Kohli and Rahane.”
“During the lockdown, I worked really hard, I did bowling on a single-wicket, I knew IPL 2020 would be really important for me. I spoke to Dale Steyn while playing for RCB, I was able to develop outswinger there. I was then selected for the Australia series, I thought I would not get a chance but I played three matches and now I am looking to just focus on the Tests against England.”
“Hanuma Vihari captained me while for Hyderabad, he knows me really well, he was always trying to explain to me what the opposition batters were trying to do. He always supported me,” he added.
Siraj made his debut for India during the MCG Test against Australia. He had made his way into the side as spearhead Mohammad Shami got injured in the first Test at Adelaide.
On Tuesday, Australia’s fortress — The Gabba — was finally breached. It took 32 years and two months, but the unthinkable was achieved as an injury-ravaged young Indian team beat Australia by three wickets against all odds to take the series 2-1.
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