Mohammed Siraj said the call-up to the Indian Test team for the home series against the Windies was a 'dream come true'. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah rested, Siraj found a place in the 15-man squad for the two Tests along with other pacers Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur.
"It is a dream come true for me. I wanted to represent my country in Tests and knew I will be able to impress the selectors someday. I am so happy. I have done well for India A recently and had an idea about my selection in the Test team," Siraj told Times of India.
Siraj has already played for India in three Twenty20 Internationals, each coming against different oppositions (New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh). He has been expensive in each of those games, conceding 53, 45 and 50 runs respectively. Siraj, however, recalled good memories from Virat Kohli's encouraging words to having Kane Williamson as his first international wicket.
"When I was selected for T20Is against New Zealand last year, I had a chat with Kohli bhai. I was nervous. He said 'Tension mat le, ground pe baat karenge. Bass ready reh kal khelne ke liye' (Don't worry, we will talk on the field. Just be ready for your debut match)," he said.
"When I hit the field, he said... I have seen your game. Just go and bowl the way you have been. Don't experiment. He took away the pressure. I was delighted after dismissing New Zealand captain Kane Williamson to claim my first international wicket."
Siraj also said MS Dhoni, the former India captain, gave him a pep talk advising him to watch the batsman closely.
"'Batsmen ke footwork ko dhyaan se dekh aur fir line aur length change kario' (Watch the batsman's footwork closely and then change the line and length accordingly)," Siraj remembered. "His pep talk has helped me take my game to another level."
Looking ahead, Siraj, who has 97 wickets from 20 first-class matches, said he wanted to continue his good form from India A.
"I am really excited to wear the white Indian jersey," Siraj said. "I have performed well for India A recently and want to carry forward that momentum against the West Indies."