Mohammed Siraj could play key role in India-South Africa series

Mohammed Siraj has made rapid strides in his cricket career as a fast bowler. On the South African pitches, he could be the key factor in India’s campaign in the forthcoming series. According to the Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, his ability to learn quickly and his boundless energy and enthusiasm are his biggest assets.

In an interview with Boria Mazumdar, well known journalist and author, the former Indian captain lavished praise on the fast bowler from Hyderabad. When Boria asked Sachin what has impressed him most about Siraj, the man who has faced and overcome the world’s best fast bowlers said, “There is a spring in his legs. Look at his run up. He is full of energy.”

“When you look at him you cannot figure out whether he is bowling the first over of the day or the last over. He is always energetic. He is coming at you all the time. He is a proper fast bowler. His body language is so positive. That is what I like,” Sachin added.

“When he first played in Australia last year and made his debut, it never appeared like he was playing his first Test. I felt that this guy has been around for some time. That was the level of maturity that he showed. He built up from there and never looked back. Now, every time I see him, I find that there is something new he has introduced into his bowling,” explained Sachin.
Posting Sachin’s comments on Twitter, Siraj responded by saying: “Thank you Sachin sir. It is a huge motivation for me coming from you. I will always do my best for my country.”

According to M.S.K. Prasad, former wicket keeper and chairman of the selection committee who has played six Test matches and 17 ODIs for India, Siraj has been very impressive with the new ball in his short Test career. Prasad feels that Siraj should get preference over Ishant Sharma in the fast bowling department.

Siraj has the natural pace which allows him to bowl a lethal bouncer which can take many batters by surprise. Australian David Warner who was the captain of Sunrisers and V.V.S. Laxman are among those who have been impressed by Siraj’s consistent pace. Laxman believes that Siraj has performed well enough to be assured of a place in the playing eleven.

Since pitches in South Africa are helpful to fast bowlers, Siraj will definitely shine, says Laxman. After Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, it is Siraj whose ability will benefit India in a big way, the star batter from Hyderabad has said. Siraj has superior pace as compared to Ishant Sharma and this too will be an additional advantage, Laxman feels.

Another expert who has rated Siraj very highly is Ashish Nehra, the left arm fast bowler who was one of India’s main strike bowlers several years ago. In an interview to The Telegraph, he said that Bumrah and Shami are the automatic choices. However the third seamer will definitely be Siraj. The Hyderabad fast bowler has improved by leaps and bounds, Nehra has said.

So as India prepares to take on South Africa in the three Test series, all Hyderabad fans will be hoping for a stellar performance from the player who has been Hyderabad’s most outstanding cricketer in recent times. The twin cities have produced several notable spinners but pacers have been few. So Siraj is carrying a big load of expectations on his strong shoulders. If what the experts have said comes true, his confidence and hard work should see him take a bagful of wickets in the coming series.

Abhijit Sen Gupta is a seasoned journalist who writes on Sports and various other subjects