Hyderabad: Mohammed Siraj began the Border-Gavasker series as a debutant but by the time Team India bagged a historic series victory at the GABBA, the pacer was the senior-most bowler in the team, guiding the inexperienced bowling attack.

Speaking to reporters from his residence in Hyderabad, Siraj said he was awestruck by his performance, which included bagging most wickets for a debutant in a Test match in Australia. "I am speechless. This series felt like a dream," said the bowler.

On the alleged racism he faced from a section of the Australian crowd in the Sydney Test, Siraj said that his performance was the best answer. "The umpires said we could stop the game, but we respect cricket, so we didn't do that. Instead, we requested that they remove those people from the crowd," Siraj said.

Siraj was also crucial with the new ball against Australian batting mainstay David Warner and got him out several times during the series. "He struggled against my in-swing during the IPL and I wanted to keep bowling that to him. It worked," he shared, adding that he got ample support and guidance from Jasprit Bumrah in the first two games. "Bumrah told me to keep it simple and also supported me after a bad spell," Siraj said.

The pacer from Hyderabad said he wants to focus on the upcoming series against England and the ongoing World Test Championship. He said he wants to prevent complacency and keep working hard on his game.

Siraj credited the support he received from his IPL franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and captain Virat Kohli for giving him the confidence to play for India. Comparing his limited overs debut to his Test cap, he said he was a lot more nervous during his first game against New Zealand in 2017. "I had a bad season in 2018 IPL but RCB still showed faith in me and I am grateful for that support," the bowler added.

On allegations of corruption in his local cricket circuit in Hyderabad, Siraj said that talent will always count more than money and advised youngsters to put their energy into working hard and having respect for the game.

With the England series fast approaching, Siraj is focused on bringing his best game to the table and performing to the expectations of the team. "I will try to deliver on the role that the team assigns me. I want to keep it simple and not relax after this victory and carry the same form to England," he said.

India fielded an extremely inexperienced bowling line-up for the final game in Brisbane and Siraj said it reminded him of playing for India A with a similar team. "That probably took the pressure off us and we could just enjoy the game," he said.

For Siraj, it was an emotional series immediately after the death of his father. But he said he is glad he could be a player the team could fall back on when the senior bowlers were injured and also fulfill his father's dream.

Madhu Sharma

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