Every youngster who picks up a bat and bowls a ball dreams of playing for India. However very few of them go on to make it big at the international level, perhaps not even 1% of those. The feeling of a maiden national call-up is something extraordinary, the joy is unparalleled and the pressure and expectations are sky-high.
Recently when India’s squad for New Zealand T20Is was announced, a rookie pacer from Hyderabad realized his dream of playing for India. The 23-year-old Mohammed Siraj has been picked to play T20Is vs New Zealand.
Mohammed Siraj was born on 13 March 1994 to Mohammad Ghaus and Shabana Begum in Hyderabad. His father is an auto driver. His brother is a software engineer who works in a reputed IT firm.
Siraj started his career as a batsman and later shifted to bowling. Playing tennis ball cricket developed his ability to bowl yorkers.
Siraj made his first-class debut on 15 November 2015, playing for Hyderabad in the 2015–16 Ranji Trophy. He made his T20 debut on 2 January 2016. During the 2016–17 Ranji Trophy, he was the highest wicket-taker for Hyderabad with 41 wickets at an average of 18.92. All his hard work paid off in February 2017 when he was bought by the Sunrisers Hyderabad for the 2017 edition of Indian Premier League for 2.6 crores.
“Today, I remember my first income playing cricket. It was a club match and my maternal uncle was the captain of the team. I got 9 wickets for 20 odd runs in that 25 over the game. My uncle was so happy he gave me Rs 500 as a prize. It was a great feeling. But today when the bid was raised to Rs 2.6 crore, I just went numb,” Siraj had told PTI after the IPL auctions in February.
In IPL 2017 he played 6 matches and picked up 10 wickets with best figures of 4/32 against Gujarat Lions at Kanpur. That performance won him his first man of the match award in IPL. Siraj is definitely one to watch out for in future.
First-Class stats: Matches 14; Wickets 53; Average 22.3; Eco Rate 2.89; Best 5/52
– by Atharva Apte