Whoever said hard work never goes unrewarded would not be more proud than to see a young pacer in Mohammed Siraj selected for the T20I series against New Zealand. Till a couple of seasons ago, Siraj was nowhere in cricket circles. But he has been rewarded for his consistency and success on Indian pitches, especially in IPL.
Siraj was selected for the 2017 IPL by Sunrisers Hyderabad for a whopping Rs 2.6 crore although the Hyderabad pacer has just Rs 20 lakh as base price. Every one questioned Sunrisers’ strategy of investing in an youngster in Siraj. But Sunrisers chose to gamble with Siraj like how they did with Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi in 2017 IPL.
Siraj, however, did not get opportunities upfront. He warmed the benches for the initial few matches in IPL 2017 as SRH went for an experienced bowler in Ashish Nehra.
But Nehra’s injury mid-way during the tournament paved the way for Siraj’s IPL debut. And the pacer did not disappoint, taking 10 wickets in 6 matches. He was the perfect partner for Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s accuracy. If Bhuvi took wickets and restricted the batsmen from scoring freely, Siraj made it tougher on the other end with his accurate line and length bowling. Siraj’s best came at Kanpur against Gujarat Lions when he took 4/32 to help SRH enter play-offs.
Although it was his IPL heroics that got him noticed, Siraj has a good Ranji records to back his selection in the T20I squad for the New Zealand series. In last Ranji season, Siraj took 41 wickets @ 18.92 in 9 matches. He was the second highest wicket-taker among pacers and third overall in the Ranji season.
Siraj, however, is a rags-to-riches story. But that is past and Siraj currently is looking to make the best use of the opportunity that destiny will bestow upon him. He will fight for places in the XI with his SRH teammates Ashish Nehra and Bhuvi, and Mumbai Indians player Jasprit Bumrah.
Indian cricket has a lot to thank IPL for. After discovering Hardik Pandya and giving a life-line to Ashish Nehra, it has thrown another talent in Siraj in the rings. It’s up to Siraj to find his bearing in international cricket.