[Mohammed Siraj with his father, Mohammed Ghouse, an auto rickshaw driver in Hyderabad. (Photo:News18)]
Rajkot: Mohammed Siraj has been handed his maiden international cap by coach Ravi Shastri in the second T20I against New Zealand at Rajkot. The right-arm pacer replaced Ashish Nehra in the team, who retired from all forms of cricket on Wednesday.
He is now the second player to debut in this series after Shreyas Iyer, who was handed a debut in the first T20I at Delhi. He was in tears during the National Anthem which was played before the start of the match.
Born in 1994 in Hyderabad, Mohammed Siraj never went to a coaching academy. He bursted onto the scene when the Sunrisers bought him at the auction earlier this year for a whopping Rs 2.6 crore.
This came after his brilliant performance in the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy season, where he took more than 41 wickets from nine games. He was handed a match after Nehra was ruled out and since then he hasn't looked back.
Siraj‘s father, Mohammed Ghouse, is an auto rickshaw driver in Hyderabad. Through years and years of his hard-work, he was able to help the cricketer chase his dream. After earning close to INR 10 Lakhs from his two seasons with Hyderabad, the fast bowler revealed his desire to buy a house for his family and take good care of his father.
“My father has been driving his auto rickshaw for the last 30 years. I urged him to stop but he did not pay heed to my request. I'm confident of convincing him now. He needs a good rest. I may purchase a small house. I have seen my parents struggle with financial problems for so many years. Now, I want them to enjoy a good life”, Siraj told Mid-day in a recent interview.
Not many would know that Siraj did not concentrate on becoming a fast bowler. Initially started as a batsman who could bowl a bit, the right-hander played predominantly with the tennis ball in his formative years.
It was Siraj’s friends who insisted on his participation in a league tournament in order to turn into a professional cricketer. For Charminar Cricket Club, he utilized those skills he had picked up from playing tennis ball cricket to add immense value to the team.
Siraj made his first-class debut for Hyderabad in a Group C clash against Services in the 2015/16 Ranji Trophy. However, he did not feature in any more games in the tournament. The season’s 50-overs Vijay Hazare Trophy saw him receive only a couple of opportunities.
The right-arm pacer did not deter and returned to Hyderabad’s U-23 team wherein skipper Arjun Yadav helped him hone his skills in the bowling department. Upon putting in the hard yards, he came back a better bowler and put in impressive performances in the 2016/17 Ranji Trophy.
During the previous edition of the Ranji Trophy, Siraj played 9 matches and picked up 41 wickets at a remarkable average of 18.92. Though he picked up only one five-wicket haul, his consistency helped him end the tournament as the joint-third highest wicket-taker.
He was justly rewarded for his prolific form by getting included in the Rest of India team for the Irani Cup clash against Ranji Champions Gujarat. After sending down 16 fruitless overs in the first innings, Siraj picked up a couple of wickets in the second essay to play his part in his side’s 6-wicket victory.