Star debutant overcomes personal tragedy at Boxing Day debut

Mohammed Siraj had a difficult decision to make ahead of the Test series.

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Right-arm fast bowler Mohammed Siraj made his Test debut at the second test at MCG recently, finishing with impressive figures of 5/77 across two innings. He now joins an elite group, including Lasith Malinga, to take 5 or more wickets on debut in Australia in the last 50 years.

But Siraj’s journey to this stage goes beyond records and accolades.

After the demise of his father in November, the pacer was faced with a difficult choice – continue the series (with no assurance of actually playing) or return home to be with his family.

He has said it was captain Virat Kohli and his mother who convinced him to push for selection in the Test matches by staying on in Australia.

“Virat bhai said, ‘Miyan, don’t take tension. Stay strong because it was your dad’s dream that you do this (play for India), so do that’,” Siraj was quoted as saying on bcci.tv.

mohammed siraj indian cricket team
Celebrations after Siraj bowls out Nathan Lyon. Source: Twitter

After Mohammed Shammi was ruled out by an injury in the series opener, Siraj finally got the chance to play on 26 December.

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He made the most of the opportunity, complimenting Bumrah’s attack and giving nothing away to the Australian batsmen.

mohammed siraj on field
Picture credit: Ravinder Jabbal

Social media has since been buzzing with praise for the 26-year-old, who comes from humble beginnings in Hyderabad.

Siraj, the son of an autorickshaw driver, began playing cricket in middle school. Over the years, his performances took him up the ranks till he represented Hyderabad’s Under-23 team. In 2017, he went under the IPL hammer and was picked up for INR 2.6 crore by the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Despite a poor season with the Royal Challengers Bangalore for the next two seasons, he continued in domestic cricket. In 2018, he was the leading wicket taker in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

In IPL 2020 played in the United Arab Emirates, Siraj hit the spotlight when he became the first bowler to deliver two maidens in an IPL match.

Battling personal tragedy during India’s tour of Australia, Mohammed Siraj managed to make his mark at his debut, proving himself an important member of the Indian bowling side.

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