While Ponting said “Siraj looks very much like a Test match bowler”, Allan Border mentioned that “Siraj will be in international cricket for the long haul”.
On Day 1 of the Test, Siraj picked the wickets of Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green in the first innings. He followed it up with the wicket of Travis Head in the second innings on Day 3 to help India gain ascendancy in the Test.
So far, Siraj hasn’t been overawed by the situation and has always sported a smile. The way he worked over Green in the first essay by bowling several outgoing deliveries and then darting one back to get the Australian leg before showed maturity beyond his years.
The 26-year-old has been a regular member of India ‘A’ sides, before getting called-up to the Indian Test team for the ongoing tour of Australia. At the India ‘A’ level, Siraj picked a truckload of wickets, bowling in different conditions – be it in New Zealand, England, West Indies or India. That experience has helped him at the highest level.
“I bowled well in New Zealand, England, West Indies during India ‘A’ tours and that experience has helped me a lot,” Siraj said. “After doing well for India ‘A’ in the red ball format, I performed with the white ball in this year’s IPL and that further increased my confidence. I was positive that I can do well for the senior team too.”
Increased fitness levels have also been a factor. “Even during the lockdown, I made sure that I continue working hard on my fitness and that has paid off well. Hopefully, I will keep up the good work in the future,” the pacer from Hyderabad said.
Asked what were his plans going into the Melbourne Test, Siraj said, “My plan was to stick to basics and keep patience. First-class cricket has taught me to focus on the basics consistently.”
Jasprit Bumrah was seen giving Siraj advice in both the Australian innings. Asked what Bumrah was telling him, Siraj replied, “Jassi bhai told me that don’t try anything different. Bowl in one area and create pressure with dot balls. He also told me to give equal focus on each ball that I bowled.”