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Mohammed Siraj Can Play 100 Tests, Hanuma Vihari is Cheteshwar Pujara's Apprentice: R Sridhar

Mohammed Siraj has the potential to play at least 100 Test matches, and Hanuma Vihari is Cheteshwar Pujara's apprentice in the Indian team. That's how India's fielding coach R Sridhar rated the two young players

Mohammed Siraj Can Play 100 Tests, Hanuma Vihari is Cheteshwar Pujara's Apprentice: R Sridhar

Mohammed Siraj has the potential to play at least 100 Test matches, and Hanuma Vihari is Cheteshwar Pujara's apprentice in the Indian team. That's how India's fielding coach R Sridhar rated the two young players who had a special tour of Australia, playing their parts in India winning the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2-1.

Siraj, having made his debut in the second Test in Melbourne, ended as the highest wicket taker for India with 13 scalps. Given the number of injuries in the camp, he even had to lead the Indian attack in the final Test in Brisbane and emerged victorious, picking up his maiden five-wicket haul in Brisbane.

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Vihari, meanwhile, played his part helping India draw the Sydney Test by making 23* off 161 balls with a torn hamstring. In an interview to Cricketnext, Sridhar spoke highly of the duo's contribution and predicted bright futures for them.

"I don't have words to express, I am really elated about Siraj. It's all blessings of his father, the almighty, and his hardwork. Ending up as the leading wicket taker for India in a marquee series is a huge thing. Going forward, it's very important for Siraj to stay grounded and keep working on his fitness and skills. Because he has the potential for a 100-Test career. At least 100 Tests," Sridhar told Cricketnext.

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"He's an exceptional red ball bowler, we always believed that. Especially our bowling coach Arun, because he has coached him in Ranji Trophy as well and knows his skills. He has always said Siraj can be in the pool of 6-7 bowlers for red ball. Arun always talks about a pool of bowlers and kept on working on them, making sure they're in the A teams and all that. Siraj is a wonderful kid, he goes on to prove that he's mentally strong, can perform in adversity. He ticks all the boxes, his social adaptability is very good. His recovery from a mistake or setback is very good. So he's ticking a lot of boxes."

Sridhar said Vihari has the potential to do what Pujara does for Indian cricket, while explaining how his injury was a blessing in disguise in Sydney.

"And Vihari - we all know Vihari is in the mould of a Pujara. We always labelled him as Pujara's apprentice," he said. "He's always thought he's someone who can do what Pujara does for Indian cricket. He has got the temperament, concentration and skill-set. He's one of the better players of spin in the country. Unfortunately he played a poor shot to Lyon in Melbourne and got out. It was the right shot to play but the wrong ball to pick after getting set. Unfortunately, his injury was multi factorial. Fitness and fielding in forward short leg for three matches consecutively without a break and also getting hit there. I think it took a toll on his body and that's why the hamstring snapped.

"But pain always brings out the best in you. I was talking to (VVS) Laxman the other day, about how he played in Mohali (against Australia) and in Colombo (against Sri Lanka) in acute pain and won matches for India. He said pain always brings the best out of you, helps you concentrate more. That day, that pain for Vihari was probably a blessing in disguise in hindsight. He was able to concentrate against some extremely good quality fast bowling. He pulled it off for the team. He himself said he owed it for the team.

"I'm telling you, the batters who played in this series... the quality of bowling they faced was unimaginable. When you invest in these players and they go out and play, whether they get runs or not, the experience they got and the confidence they'll get is something unimaginable. Playing Australia in Australia... like I told Ashwin in Kutti Story (Ashwin's YouTube series), Ajinkya's century in Melbourne will go down as one of the most epic knocks because for the first three hours, it was English conditions on an Australian pitch. It was unbelievable. Cloudy, ball jagging around... bowlers at 145+. Ajinkya's 100 is so so so special. 1033 wickets between the Australian bowlers. And I hear their record in Australia is better than McGrath, Gillespie, Warne and Brett Lee."

The full interview with R Sridhar will be published on Monday (January 25).



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