Mohammed Siraj is determined to have his feet on the ground and keep things simple as he chases new goals in his cricket career.
The India fast bowler, who had a dream haul of eight wickets in the Lord’s Test in the recent series in England, said even as he was disappointed at missing the chance to play the T20 World Cup, he would continue to keep working hard to be a match-winner each time he gets an opportunity to represent India in any given format.
“Well, selection is not in our hands. It was certainly a dream to play in the T20 World Cup. But, again, that is not the end of it all. I have many more goals - the biggest being to play a lead role in helping the team to win matches,” Siraj explained in a chat with Sportstar .
“I will take things as they come for I believe in destiny and be content in whatever opportunities I get even as the pursuit for excellence at the highest level continues,” he explained.
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“The England tour was a great experience by any stretch of imagination. I am glad that I could repose the faith of my captain Virat bhai (Kohli), head coach Ravi Shastri, the support staff and the entire team,” said 27-year-old, who has picked up 30 wickets in the nine Tests he played so far.
“Definitely, bowling in tandem with big names like Shami bhai , Ishant bhai and Jasprit bhai is a huge learning curve for me. They were so supportive and always came up with invaluable tips to keep improving my bowling,” he said.
How was the mood before the start of the Test series in England? “We were confident, though not complacent. This team is on a high after the memorable series win in Australia,” he said.
“It is a team with complete balance in all departments. And, personally, for me it is a joy to be part of such a unit led by such an inspirational leader like Virat bhai ,” Siraj said.
What exactly was the Virat's advice to you? “'We know that you are really good with your inswingers. But to keep the batsmen guessing, you should be equally good with the outswingers.' That’s what I have been working really hard and immensely pleased with the Lord’s spell,” Siraj said.
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"Obviously, playing at Lords’ and performing there is something which I cannot explain in words even now. As a child I came to know it as the Mecca of world cricket. And, it was an unforgettable experience to play there and help the team win the Test," he explained.
“To be honest, I didn’t think too much after missing a hat-trick twice in the Lord’s Test. I felt what God wanted for me happened. Yes, I was disappointed at missing a five-wicket haul at that historic venue,” Siraj said.
“Yes, I would say the five-over spell I bowled in The Oval Test before lunch on the final day even though I didn’t get any wicket was another immensely satisfying one for I was able to create pressure on the batsmen with my consistent line and length,” he said.
“Essentially, I will focus on my fitness by following the diet strictly to stay away from injuries and there is no better example than my captain in this regard,” he said with a big smile.
“When I look back at England series, I have a feeling that in anybody’s career there will be a phase where if you perform well and live up to the expectations, you will be more confident in facing any kind of challenges. Frankly, I thought I had gone through such a phase successfully,” he explained. “That’s why I am more confident and aggressive now,” he added.
Reflecting on the second half of the IPL to be held in Dubai, the star fast bowler from Hyderabad playing for Royal Challengers of Bangalore, said they were determined to win the trophy.
'Dream to play a lead role in title triumph'
On Hyderabad cricket, Siraj said he would be available for Hyderabad for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
“It is one of my dreams to play a lead role in guiding the team to a major title-triumph in domestic cricket,” he said.
“It was disappointing that we are not in the Elite Group of Ranji Trophy too. So, I want to give more than 100 percent and help my team script a few big wins,” the fast bowler said.
When informed that Hanuma Vihari was coming back to Hyderabad, a pleasantly surprised Siraj said he was not aware of it but that it was really good news.