From Tolichowki to Gabba: The story of Mohammed Siraj

By Anurag Mallick  Published on  19 Jan 2021 4:15 PM GMT
From Tolichowki to Gabba: The story of Mohammed Siraj

Photo: PTI

Hyderabad: Team India made it to the history books on 19th January afternoon as they beat the mighty Australia in their own backyard. The Indian cricket team also captured Australia's fortress, Gabba, where they were undefeated from the past 32 years.

It was a team effort from India, but it also found some new heroes from the series. One of them is our very own, Mohammed Siraj from Tolichowki, Hyderabad. It all began from Tennis-ball tournaments in Hyderabad which ignited the fire in him to take up the sport, professionally. It was at the age of 20 that he first bowled with the season ball. He then became a regular in the U-22 and Domestic Hyderabad side. Few years of consistent bowling performances in the Ranji Trophy & then India-A tours ensured Siraj was ready for the big stage.

The speedster from Hyderabad played a pivotal role in the team's success as he ended up being the highest wicket-taker for India with 13 wickets from 3 matches. He also picked up his maiden 5-wicket haul in test matches in Australia's second innings. He ended up with the figures of 5-73 in 19.5 overs with five maidens.

It is also pertinent and inspirational to know about what led to this success in the game's longest format. In this year's IPL, he looked in a great rhythm and was their joint second-highest wicket-taker for his franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore. His best performance came against KKR where he picked up 3 wickets for 8 runs in 4 overs.

With a good IPL and a great first-class record, Siraj was finally rewarded with a Test call-up against Australia.

Life then took an unexpected turn for Siraj as he lost his beloved father, Late Mr Mohammed Ghouse to a lung ailment at 53. He was Siraj's biggest support and always backed him to play the game he dreamt of playing at the highest level. He did see his son make T20 and ODI debut for India but wanted to see his son play Test Cricket for India. Siraj did play for India, but his father wasn't there to watch him play.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli was one of the biggest supporters for the young Paceman in Australia as he said, ' Miyan, do not get tensed. Stay strong. It was your father's dream to see you play for India. So do that. Do not get tensed. This will be good for you & also your family', Siraj told BCCI.

Although it was unsure of whether he would play or not as there were no vacant spots in the bowling department with the likes of Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.

As the injury woes began for Team India, it also opened doors for Siraj to make his Test debut at the great Melbourne cricket ground in the second test match of the series. He made his debut for India in the second Test match & had a dream debut with the ball picking five wickets in 2 innings.

He then became a regular in the side and featured in all the remaining tests. What made his debut series more memorable & unique is that he was the leader of the pace attack in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah.

He was seen cheering up and giving advice to other bowlers like Natarajan who made his debut in the final Test at the Gabba.

His best performance with the ball came in the final Test match at the Gabba in the second innings when he picked his maiden fifer, including wickets of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne. He also dismissed David Warner twice across two tests.

By the end of the series, Siraj ended up being the leading wicket-taker for India in his debut series with 13 wickets to his name. It is indeed a remarkable feat for Siraj to achieve what he has, but it is also to be seen that he has worked hard for it. He hasn't got it easy. He has been rewarded for his efforts.

Siraj has also been named in the squad for India's home series against England, beginning from February 5 at the Chepauk from 9:30 am.

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