India A call-up a ‘big thing for me’, says Mohammed Siraj

This has been a year of success for the 23-year-old medium pacer.

Mohammed Siraj was bought for Rs. 2.6 crore by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

Mohammed Siraj was training hard at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) on Thursday morning, when one of his colleagues -Aniket Choudhary - shared the news with him. “Bhai, tu India A mein khelega ab (Brother, you will play for India A now)..,” Aniket told his friend, who couldn’t make out if it was a prank or was he actually into India A squad for the South Africa tour.

Choudhary, who too made the cut for the tour, wasn’t faking it. But a shy Siraj was still not sure if he would actually be travelling to the Proteas land. “It is a big thing for me. Initially, I thought the seniors were pulling my leg, but now, it is sinking in slowly,” Siraj told Sportstar from Bengaluru.

India A squad for South Africa tour announced

This has been a year of success for the 23-year-old medium pacer. After a decent outing in the domestic season, he was taken by Sunrisers Hyderabad for the Indian Premier League - that too for a whopping Rs 2.6 crore. Unlike many, Siraj returned the favour, scalping 10 wickets in six matches. Ask him and he agrees that the IPL has certainly changed his life. “Everything is happening by the grace of god. Without the support of my parents, I would have never come so far. This is a big thing for me,” he said at one breath.

India A takes the Vijay path

This, however, is not his first stint with India A. When Australia toured here earlier this year, Siraj was picked in the squad. However, his days were spent warming the bench. “I could only observe the things sitting at the bench. There was nothing much I could do then. But now, my aim would be to seal a berth in the playing eleven,” Siraj pointed out.

‘Junoon’

Despite grabbing eyeballs in the IPL, Siraj still hasn’t picked up English too well. But that hasn’t stopped him from interacting with foreign coaches and players about cricket. In the ongoing pacers camp at the NCA too, he makes it a point to know the nitty-gritty of the trade from the coaches. “After the IPL, this camp has been really beneficial for me. Without motivation and junoon (passion), it is not possible to learn things. I am just doing that,” Siraj said, adding that he is working hard on his fitness level too.

Coming from a lower middle-class family, they would be dependent on his father - an auto-rickshaw driver - for running the family. But now, with big money flowing in, he is in search of shifting to a bigger house. “That’s the least I can do for my parents,” he said, admitting that playing in South Africa has always been his dream.

Even a few months back, walking past the serpentine lanes of his locality in Hyderabad, Siraj wouldn’t only think of donning the India colours one day. Thursday has just brought him a step closer!

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