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Siraj credits domestic experience, Bharat Arun for confident debut

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Melbourne, Dec 28 (IANS) India pace bowler Mohammed Siraj has credited his five-year grind at the domestic level for his impressive performance on Test debut in the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Siraj picked the wickets of Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green in the first innings and followed it up with Travis Head’s in the second innings to help India take control of the second Test match.

Siraj, who made his first-class debut for his home state of Hyderabad in November 2015, played 38 first-class matches before his Test debut in the ongoing game between India and Australia. Apart from Hyderabad, he also played plenty of games for India A picking multiple five-wicket hauls for India’s second string side.

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“I think my performance in the domestic cricket and first-class cricket has helped me. I am able to focus on the basics consistently. I don’t try much,” said Siraj referring to the difficulty of bowling on the MCG wicket, before adding, “Our plan was to stick to basics and keep patience. The wicket had also slowed down so on that we had to focus on basics.”

He said that there is not much difference in bowling in Tests from bowling in the days’ format of domestic cricket.

“Though Test cricket has a different value, we have to bowl at this level just like we do in domestic cricket with the red ball too…I am glad I am doing well and plan to do well in future,” he said and added that he had been practicing during the lockdown with both the red and white ball.

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He also said that the performance in the Indian Premier League, where he became the first one in tournament history to bowl two consecutive maiden overs gave him confidence. He picked 11 wickets in nine games for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, bowling at quality batsmen.

The 26-year-old also credited the Team India bowling coach Bharat Arun for helping him during the latter’s stint as Hyderabad Ranji team’s head coach.

Arun served as Hyderabad coach in the 2016-17 season before becoming India bowling coach.

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“I first met Bharat sir in Hyderabad. He used to give confidence to the bowlers. He told me that you are the kind of bowler who can take anyone’s wicket. Those kind of words gives you confidence and boosts your morale. He is here with me again, giving me confidence,” added Siraj.

John Manoj, who is the vice-president of Hyderabad Cricket Association, told IANS, “Bharat Arun moulded him into a professional bowler and taught him how to assess himself as a bowler and what kind of work he needs to do to perform. How much he has to work in practice sessions and how much of it. Arun worked a lot on him… he showed him the way to play for India. Everyone is good, but he showed him the way, set a goal and gave not just him but other bowlers too. He gave them security.”

Siraj added that his experience of playing with the Kookaburra for India A in New Zealand helped him ease into his Test debut.

“Last time in New Zealand (for India A) I had played with the kookaburra ball. So I didn’t have to do much to get used to it,” added Siraj.

–IANS

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