The right-arm speedster Mohammed Siraj emerged as the highest wicket for India, taking 13 wickets in 3 Tests matches. He shone bright in his debut series against Australia and even clinched a five-wicket hall in the fourth Test match in Brisbane that India won by three wickets to win the series 2-1.
Just as Siraj returned to India after India’s phenomenal win, he directly went to his father’s graveyard to offer him floral tribute. His father Mohammed Ghouse, who always wished to see Siraj play for India, left for the heavenly abode just when Siraj was picked up for the Australian series.
“Abbu always said ‘ beta ek din tujhe bahot naam kamana hai. India ke liye khelna hai’ (Son, you have to make a name for yourself some day and have to play for India). Whenever I used to perform well whether in domestic matches, India A or IPL, he had a habit of collecting the newspaper articles and he used to keep those cuttings with him. When I returned home after winning the series, he wasn’t there to see me and hug me. But he is there somewhere and watching me and I am sure he must be smiling,” Siraj told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.
“It was a tough situation for me (in Australia). I was quarantined. I had locked myself in my room when I heard the news of my abba’s demise. He always blessed me and wanted to see me in an Indian Test jersey. I earned the jersey but my father wasn’t there to see me. I earned that for him because I was living his dream. He has struggled and supported me a lot,” Siraj said with a lump in his throat.
Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri informed Siraj of the sad news
“Virat bhai and Ravi sir came and told me about the news. I went inside the room and locked myself and started crying. I didn’t know what to do. After some time, Ravi sir came and said your father’s blessing will always be with you. He asked me to promise him that I will take a five-wicket haul in an innings to give tribute to my father. That was the biggest confidence booster for me. I am really proud and thankful that I managed to do that,” Siraj told TimesofIndia.com
“Ajji bhaia (Ajinkya Rahane) also came and said ‘be strong, we are with you’. Virat bhayia came and hugged me. I cried in front of him. He consoled me and gave me confidence. I told him I will stay and will play for my father. Virat bhaiya motivated me a lot at that moment,” the 26-year-old pacer from Hyderabad further said.
Support from the family
“I was in touch with my family members. My brother supported me a lot over the phone and convinced me to stay there (in Australia). He told me now fulfill his dreams,” Siraj said.
Acknowledgement to senior players
“I was waiting for this opportunity for a long time. I played for India and performed well and then finally got the chance to play for the senior team. I am really thankful to God. It was a big series for me. Playing alongside stars like Rahane, Rohit, Bumrah, Jadeja, Ashwin, and Umesh was a big big thing for me,”
“When we won, I have no clue what happened. I was so delighted and totally caught up in the atmosphere which was totally electric. The feeling is yet to sink in for me. It was my maiden Test series and to win a big series against a big team like Australia. Yes, we have defeated Australia in Australia,” Hyderabad born bowler described his feeling at the time of win.
“When Pant hit that winning boundary, I just rushed out to the middle. I was speechless but was enjoying the moment. I had tears in my eyes. I was dedicating the win to my father. I loved him so much. Wish he was there to see me performing for India and win the series,” Siraj signed off.