Mohammed Siraj witnessed a dramatic improvement in his bowling after the tour to Australia in which in the absence of India’s senior fast bowlers he returned as the highest wicket-taker for the country in the Test series. The pace bowler revealed how India’s Head Coach Ravi Shastri encouraged him after he received the tragic news of the death of his father in late November.
Siraj was returning from practice in Sydney on the 20th of November, 2020 when the terrible news broke in. He made a resolve then to fulfill the wishes of his father.
“My dad’s wish was always this - mera beta, desh ka naam roshan karna (my son, you should make my country proud). And, I will do that for sure," said Siraj back then.
Siraj decided to stay back in Australia after his father’s death and play for the country - that would be a fitting tribute to his father according to the fast bowler.
He was especially grateful to Shastri and India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun who encouraged him during this touch period in his life.
“When I lost my father during the Australia tour, both Ravi sir and bowling coach Bharat Arun sir were so supportive. Ravi sir came to me and told, tu test match khel, dekh tereko 5 wickets milega. Tere Daddy ka dua tera saath hoga (You play the test match. You will get 5 wickets as your father’s blessings will be with you)."
Siraj made his debut against Australia in the big Boxing Day Test at the MCG and returned with 5 wickets in the match. These included the wickets of Labuschagne and Cameron Green in the first innings and Travis Head and Green again in the second. India came back after the ’36 all-out’ horror in Adelaide to draw level the series 1-1.
Shastri praised Siraj for his efforts after the match.
“Match ke baad Ravi sir ne bahut khus hokar bola, tujhe bola tha na 5 wickets milega (I told that you will be getting five wickets). I became very confident after my coaches encouraged me in such a way,” stated Siraj.
Siraj was also thankful to his RCB and India captain Virat Kohli for always supporting him and inspiring him to do his best.
“Virat Bhai is always there. When I couldn’t perform well in the IPL two years back, he showed faith in my ability. He retained me in RCB and I am grateful for this,” said Siraj.