Hyderabad: With the MSK Prasad-headed selection committee deciding to rest some key players, including some fast bowlers, Hyderabad’s Mohammad Siraj was one of the automatic selections for the tri-nation T20 series in Sri Lanka. Siraj, who has been in splendid form, is the top wicket-taker of the Vijay Hazare one-day tournament, scalping 32 victims that included three five-wicket hauls.
Siraj was happy that he is back in the Indian team after having missed the South African tour. “I was a little disappointed when I missed the South Africa series. I worked hard for a good outing in the Vijay Hazare tournament. I got into a good rhythm. I hit the right length. It made me feel good when I got three five-wicket hauls, including the two back-to-back five-for, in the one-day tournament. I knew that given my good performances, I should find a place in the Indian team,” he said.
The fast bowler bowled at a good pace which even impressed Hyderabad coach J Arunkumar. “I think he was the best bowler in the tournament. He bowled at a good pace and even pitched up nicely to take good number of wickets. He is a much-improved and matured bowler,” said Arunkumar.
Siraj, who was troubled by side strain at the start of the season, said he has recovered fully from the injury. “I think the stint at National Cricket Academy (NCA) at Bengaluru helped me to get back to good shape. However, I had to miss the Ranji Trophy for the best part of the season.”
The 23-year-old Hyderabad fast bowler, who made his T20 debut for India last year, is looking forward to the Sri Lanka tour. “It is always nice to work with bowling coach Bharat Arun sir. I learnt a lot about my bowling from him when he was the Hyderabad coach two seasons ago. He would always say: ‘bindas bowling kar’. He spoke about the mindset and the importance of a good attitude that is needed to play in top level competition.”
With Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah being rested for this tour, Siraj said it is a big challenge to be one of the main bowlers for the team. “I’m confident of a good performance in the series. It is a new challenge for me,” he said.
Son of an auto driver, Siraj said the wheel has turned a full circle for him. “My mother, who used to taunt me for playing cricket, is a very happy woman now that I’m representing the country. It is all happening for good now.”