‘Alag feeling hai’ as Siraj plays HCA local match

Mohammed Siraj (centre) was back playing for Budding Stars in the semifinals of the HCA one-day tournament at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Friday. Photo: Anand Dharmana

Hyderabad: `Alag feeling Hai’ as it was a sort of homecoming for Mohammed Siraj when he stepped into the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium to play HCA one-day semifinals for his teams Budding Stars against Gemini Friends on Friday.

“I used to come in two-wheeler or someone used to give me a lift. Today I came in my own car. I became a big cricketer after performing for Hyderabad. I owe my rise to Hyderabad cricket,’’ he said. Incidentally Sirag reached the stadium in his new bmw car on Friday.

With IPL a few weeks away, Siraj said he decided to play the local match because he wanted some match practice. “Playing in local matches does help you for bigger matches as it gives match fitness. It is a learning process by playing in these matches. I feel so happy to back with my teammates and friends. I played with them. I cannot forget their contribution for my rise in cricket.’’

The new Hyderabad pace sensation said since November, it has been a dream journey. “There was sadness and happiness. I lost my father but I’m happy that I could fulfill his dream for playing for my country. He always told, `Mera beta desh keh liya khelna or roshan karna.’ If my papa had been alive, he would have been very proud of my achievements.’’

On the home series against England, Siraj said: “In Australia, there was bounce and I had to change my strategy. It was more of back of length deliveries. Since I had the experience of playing Ranji matches, it helped me to adjust against England at home. In India, I bowled little fuller length deliveries.’’

He pointed out that he got tremendous joy when Ravichandran Ashwin scored the century in the second Test in Chennai. “Every cricketer dreams to hit a century or take five wickets for the country. So when Ashwin scored that crucial century in the second Test, I was very happy. I could not hide my joy and happiness when Ashwin reached the three-figure mark. `Dil se aaya’. He trusted me and when I came to bat, he told the ball is turning. I just told him, `bhaiya tension mat loh’. ‘’

He added that he has made it a point to celebrate with Mayank Agarwal whenever he takes a wicket. “Whenever I take my wickets, I dedicate it to my father. Since I know Mayank Agarwal since my India A tours, I have been celebrating with him from second Test in Melbourne. He was there for all my wickets excepting for the last wicket in the fourth Test in Ahmedabad and Axar was there to celebrate with me. ‘’

Siraj said his next priority would be to do well in shorter formats of the game for India. “I have to wait for my opportunities. In fact, I’m taking my confidence from the Test series into the IPL now for Royal Challengers Bangalore. I’m a confident bowler now. Last year, I did well in IPL and I have to be consistent with my bowling.’’

He said playing in England for the World Test Championship final is a big thing for him. “I hope to do well as the conditions may suit my bowling.”

The speedster said he did enjoy taking the wicket of England captain Joe Root in fourth Test. “In this particular dismissal, I bowled out-swingers before I brought the ball in to trap Root. I developed the out-swing in IPL as in-swing came natural to me. Kohli has been a big inspiration for me and when I dismissed Root, he said: Miyan maaza Aa gaya.’’

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