India pacer Mohammed Siraj has attributed his growth in international cricket to the support he has been receiving from his India and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain, Virat Kohli. The Hyderabad pacer said Kohli has been standing by him through thick and thin of his career.
Mohammed Siraj has evolved into one of India’s leading pacers in red-ball cricket after a dream run in Australia earlier this year. From making his debut in the 2nd Test of the series to leading the attack in the final Test, Siraj grew in confidence during India’s memorable series victory Down Under.
Siraj made his India debut as early as 2017 but he was not able to make a mark, consistently in white-ball format. Nonetheless, Siraj kept performing consistently in domestic cricket and earned a recall to the Test side. Siraj used IPL 2020 as a platform to prove his mettle under Kohli to get back into the senior national team.
The Hyderabad pacer topped the bowling charts for India with 13 wickets from 3 matches, including a 5-wicket haul in the Gabba Test.
Siraj though had a difficult start to the tour in Australia as he had lost his father right after reaching the country. Siraj chose to stay back and continue training with the team in Australia. The pacer revealed that the support from Kohli and his teammates kept him motivated during those trying times.
“Virat bhaiya always says — you have the ability, the ability to play on any wicket and get rid of any batsman,” Siraj told The Times of India.
“I had lost my father during the Australia series. I was shattered and not really in my senses. It was Virat bhaiya who gave me strength and support. I owe my career to Virat.
“Virat has supported me through thick and thin. He has always been there for me in all circumstances. I remember how I was crying in the hotel room. Vrirat bhaiya came to my room and hugged me tightly and said ‘I am with you, don’t worry’. Those words encouraged me a lot. He played just one Test on the tour but his messages and calls motivated me,” he added.
‘Be ready for England tour’
Siraj was at his best in IPL 2021, showcasing his improved ability to trouble opposition batsmen. Siraj picked up 6 wickets in 7 matches at an impressive economy rate of just over 6. The right-arm pacer was able to swing the ball both ways and zip through the surface in impressive opening bursts.
Siraj revealed that Kohli acknowledged the improvement in his bowling and asked him to be ready for the England tour. Siraj has been named in the 20-man squad for the World Test Championship final and the subsequent 5-Test series in England in August-September.
“Recently, after our match vs CSK (in now-suspended IPL 2021), Virat bhaiya came and said ‘the changes you have brought about in your bowling are amazing. It will be benefiting our team. Be ready for the England tour. All the best’. These words from one of the best captains in the world motivate me a lot,” Siraj said.