Eight months back, Mohammed Siraj was picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League auction and since the day he got his IPL contract, the medium pacer asked his father — an auto rickshaw driver — to stop working.
Just at the age of 23, Siraj has taken another big step in his cricketing career. The right-arm pacer was picked up for the India T20I squad that will take on New Zealand in a three-match series.
“I feel proud that at 23, I am good enough to shoulder the responsibility of my family. The day I got an IPL contract, I told my father that I won’t let him work anymore. Usi din se maine father ko bola ki aap abhi rest kaaro (that very day I told Dad that now you can rest). And yes, I have shifted with my family to a new house,” Siraj told PTI in an interview.
Siraj admitted that he was expecting a call-up for India team but this call up was earlier than expected. He has some decent performances for India ‘A’.
“I knew that some time in future I will get a call-up but did not expect it this soon. I can’t tell you how happy I am. When I told my parents, they were speechless. It’s a dream come true,” Siraj said.
While Siraj was happy that he was recognised after his IPL performance, he also credited his performances in Ranji Trophy for Hyderabad for his maiden India call-up. Siraj will also feature in Hyderabad’s Ranji match against Karnataka beginning on Tuesday.
“Whatever I am today is primarily because of Ranji Trophy performance. My 40-odd wickets last season gave me the confidence. There’s nothing like getting wickets in first-class cricket. I was picked for Rest of India after that and because of Ranji Trophy, I got the IPL deal. So 60 per cent credit for this call-up is performance in first-class cricket,” he said.
Siraj revealed that India’s bowling coach Bharath Arun was of immense help when he was with Hyderabad team last year. The pacer said that his insights helped him improve his bowling.
“I can’t tell you how much I am indebted to Bharath Arun sir. He is a brilliant coach. Last year, he was with the Hyderabad team and for the first time, I got an insight to the kind of variations needed to survive at the highest level. He told me about the variations in slower deliveries, how to bowl a knuckle ball. All these things helped me when I played IPL,” he said.
Siraj was under the tutelage of Sunrisers teammate Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashish Nehra last year and he credited them for their encouragement especially regarding his bowling.
“Bhuvi bhai encouraged me a lot during IPL. He would come up with lot of valuable suggestions on what areas to hit at the death, the lengths for particular batsmen,” Siraj said.
“Dravid sir told me that I need not change anything in my bowling. His advice has been pretty simple. Do what has got you success till now. Hopefully, I can replicate my success at the highest level,” he concluded.