With 41-wickets in the Ranji Trophy 2016-17, Mohammed Siraj became a bowler to watch out for. The fast bowler from Hyderabad who made his first-class debut in 2015 and had played only match went on to perform consistently through the 2016-17 season including the Indian Premier League. His efforts have earned him a call up into the India ‘A’ team for the tour to South Africa. The 23-year old has been named in both - the one-day as well as the four-day squad for the forthcoming tour.
Speaking tobcci.tv about the opportunity to represent India ‘A’, Siraj said, “This is a good opportunity for me and I will try to make the most of it. I would like to perform and make it count as I look to play for India in the future. God willing my dream will come true. People at home and my team-mates are very happy that I have been selected for India ‘A’,” he mentioned.
However, before becoming a part of the Hyderabad squad, the lanky bowler played tennis-ball cricket and said that he had no idea of movement and other such technicalities of bowling. It was under the guidance of Bharat Arun that he worked more on his bowling. “I used to play tennis-ball cricket. Before playing in the Ranji Trophy, I didn’t know anything about things like seam or swing. All I knew was to bowl on one spot and that’s what I would do. Now I know other things like reverse swing,” Siraj said while reflecting on his early days.
“I got to learn a lot from Bharat Sir during the Ranji Trophy. He would tell me to keep bowling in one area, bowl your stock ball to whoever the batsman is and back yourself. The batsman will make a mistake and you will get a wicket,” he added.
Speaking about his strengths, Siraj said, “I try to hit the fourth stump from good length regardless of whether I am playing with the white ball or red ball. That is what I focus on.”
Playing with the likes of Ashish Nehra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and coach Tom Moody around for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the IPL provided a learning ground for the youngster. Recalling the experience, he said, “I learnt a lot about things like what lengths to bowl in different phases of the game which worked and helped me succeed.”
While learning from his team-mates, Siraj also had an opportunity to bowl to international batsmen in the IPL. “In T20s, the batsmen hit a good ball as well. I bowl my stock ball, which is helpful while bowling to the international batsmen,” he said while talking about the opportunity.
When asked what is he anticipating from the tour and the conditions, Siraj said, “I don’t know how the wickets will be in South Africa. I will go there and see. In one-dayers, I will work on bowling yorkers in death overs and things like that. I will focus on my strengths whether it is a multi-day or a one-day game and do what I have been doing in domestic cricket.”