India-A pacer Mohammed Siraj ran through Australia-A on the opening day of the first unofficial Test, at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.
Siraj recorded figures of eight for 59 – his career-best in first-class cricket – to help India-A bowl Australia-A out for 243. In reply, India-A finished the day on 41 for no loss.
Relying on late reverse-swing and good pace, Siraj scythed through the Australia-A line-up. He claimed his first wicket when he cleaned up opener Kurtis Patterson, who played down the wrong line and lost his stumps.
He then accounted for Travis Head, Peter Handscomb and Mitchell Marsh in quick succession to reduce Australia-A to 90 for four. While southpaw Head edged one to the ‘keeper K.S. Bharat,
Hanscomb and Marsh were defeated by deliveries which tailed in sharply. Both batsmen were stuck on the crease and were trapped on the pads.
Opener Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne put on 114 for the fifth wicket before Siraj uprooted Labuschagne’s middle-stump for 60. Siraj and chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav (two for 63) had little trouble cleaning up the tail.
Khawaja, the last man to fall, was a cut above the rest. The left-hander was comfortable on the front foot, playing a few pleasing drives through the cover-point region. Khawaja, who has featured in 33 Tests, notched up his 26th first-class century. He eventually fell for a 228-ball 127, when he nicked yet another reversing Siraj delivery.
Siraj’s devastating form has seen the Hyderabadi pick up an astonishing 41 wickets in 10 innings, across formats. He credited India-A head coach Rahul Dravid, India-A bowling coach Paras Mhambrey and India bowling coach Bharat Arun for his success.
“Generally, whenever I have a question, I speak to Arun sir. I asked him for tips recently on what I should do in red-ball cricket, and he told me not to change anything. His advice helped me a great deal,” Siraj said.
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