“It is an unbelievable moment,” says a visibly excited Hyderabad pacer Mohammed Siraj on being picked for the Indian team to take on New Zealand in the T20Is.

The 23-year-old Siraj, who just returned to the dressing room from training with the Hyderabad Ranji team in Shivamogga on Monday ahead of the clash against Karnataka, told Sportstar that he initially couldn’t believe the news which the Karnataka players broke to him.

“It is a dream come true. Honestly, I was never expecting this call. I was always focussing on performing to the best of my ability every time I am given the chance,” Siraj said, while revealing that his manager Vinod Ingle happens to be the lucky mascot for him.

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"When he was the manager of Hyderabad under-23 team, I was picked for the Ranji squad and now for the Indian team," he added.

“Well, the Ranji Trophy performance last season (picking 41 wickets to be the lead wicket-taker for Hyderabad) was the turning point of my career. Then, the IPL performances when I was guided by so many greats including Laxman Sir (VVS Laxman). The Man of the Match performance against Gujarat Lions (4/32) in the IPL was a decisive moment of my career which gave me recognition,” he explained.

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“I am eternally grateful to Bharat Sir (former Hyderabad Ranji coach who is now with the Indian team). He was the one who gave me confidence and made me believe in myself. I must say after that Ranji season, I am a different bowler,” Siraj said.

“I am comfortable in all three formats of the game. So, I am ready for the challenge of bowling in the T20 format for I believe I have the pace, the deception and the variety like bowling the slower ones, bouncers and the yorkers. Essentially, the emphasis on line and length are the key features of my bowling,” he explained.

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Reflecting on the IPL stint, Siraj says he shared a lot about the art of bowling with his idol Bhuvneshwar Kumar and left-armer Ashish Nehra. “Bhuvi bhai is another cricketer whom I adore and I owe a lot to him for being so friendly in giving me invaluable tips,” he said.

Siraj also went down memory lane — from the days when his father drove an auto for a living. “By Allah’s grace and the blessings of my parents (Mohd Ghouse and Shabana Begum), I am able to reach this far. I also thank the Hyderabad Cricket Association officials, fellow players and all the coaches who helped me in shaping my career,” he concluded.