On cloud nine, Siraj hopes for a dream run in IPL

The 22-year-old, Mohammad Siraj, who took 41 wickets for Hyderabad in Ranji this season, said: "Well, the first target was to play for India-A and now I will use this (IPL) platform to come up with good performances to stake my claim for a slot in the Indian team."

The 22-year-old Siraj, took 41 wickets for Hyderabad in Ranji this season.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

It is not just a huge opportunity to play for Sunrisers Hyderabad which has pacer Mohammad Siraj delighted, but the price for which he was bought (Rs. 2.60 crores) too seems to have floored him.

“I was expecting to be picked by some franchisee in the IPL auction today. But, the price which Sunrisers bid for me is unbelievable. This is the biggest day of my career,” exclaimed a visibly delighted Siraj, who spent most of the day at home with his family members.

“Definitely, my dad (Md. Ghouse) will not drive the auto now, which he has been doing for three decades. That’s it. He has sacrificed so much and it is my turn to take care of him and my family,” said the grateful fast bowler, who has been having a wonderful season.

The 22-year-old Siraj, who took 41 wickets for Hyderabad in Ranji this season, said: “Well, the first target was to play for India-A and now I will use this (IPL) platform to come up with good performances to stake my claim for a slot in the Indian team. With the Champions Trophy scheduled, I am determined to come good and prove a point or two.”

“When I look back, I think my bowling against Mumbai in the Ranji knock-out game, where I picked nine wickets, changed the course of my career. It gave me so much of confidence. I am now only looking ahead,” said Siraj, who was also picked for the Rest of India team and the India-A teams against the Australians in the three-day practice game (though he did not figure in the playing eleven).

“Yes, I have to make some adjustments to be a different bowler in the T-20 format though I am not new to this having experienced the tough challenges in the just-concluded Mushtaq Ali Trophy. I have to improve my skills with those slower ones, yorkers to be more effective,” reveals the fast bowler, whose rise from a very poor middle-class family can well be some sort of inspiration for many budding cricketers.

“I must give credit to Hyderabad Ranji coach Bharat Arun Sir and captain Badrinath for the kind of faith they had in me right from the start of the season. They have been my great source of strength and inspiration.

"I am also grateful to the fellow Hyderabad fast bowlers Chama Milind and Ravi Kiran for always encouraging me," said the fast bowlers who was spotted by Jyothi Prasad, Hyderabad chairman of selection panel and a former Ranji fast bowler himself.

“The biggest challenge for me in this IPL is to play alongside some of the big names. My own team (SRH) has such great players like Warner, Yuvraj, Mustafizur, Bhuvneshwar. Honestly, I am all excited to wait for the big day when I play with them in this IPL," Siraj remarked.

Siraj picked up the contest against Royal Challengers Bangalore as the one he is eagerly awaiting for when he gets a chance to bowl to the likes of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers. “That is one game I am really excited to play,” he added.

“I am ready for the big challenge to meet the demands of the highly competitive IPL. It is a life-time opportunity and I am very keen to repose the faith the franchisee has show in me.

"And, I deem it a privilege to be trained by the likes of Laxman Sir (VVS Laxman), Tom Moody and Muralitharan. What more can a cricketer ask for… signed off Siraj, who is apparently on cloud nine."