Team India came up with a superb all-round effort to get the better of England in the Lord’s Test. One of the heroes of India’s triumphs was pacer Mohammed Siraj, who claimed four wickets in the second innings to burst through England’s lower-order. Siraj (4/32) along with Jasprit Bumrah (3/33) stunned England’s batting and rolled them over for 120 in 51.5 overs in a chase of 272. Siraj set off wild celebrations in the Indian camp by breaching James Anderson’s defence. The fast bowler from Hyderabad is a special talent. We look at five reasons why he is the next big thing in Indian cricket.
1. He is always ready for the challenge
Right from the start of his international career, Siraj has been faced with challenges. He lost his father while India were in Australia but refused to go back. With injuries battering the Indian team, he made his Test debut in the Boxing Day encounter and made an immediate impact, grabbing five wickets in the match. With all of India’s main pacers ruled out, Siraj suddenly became the leader of the pack in Brisbane. He responded by claiming five wickets in the second innings. At Lord’s, he produced some magical deliveries to claim four scalps on the last day to go with his four in the first. In his short career, every time a challenge has been thrown to Siraj, he has been equal to the task.
2. His aggression is an asset
Some bowlers feed off aggression. And Siraj certainly seems to be one of them. According to former Pakistan captain Salman Butt, Siraj is the most aggressive fast bowler in the Indian team as far as body language is concerned. At Lord’s, with the temperatures flaring, he was ready to give it back to England’s big names, although he was only playing in his seventh Test. Having played a lot under Virat Kohli at RCB, one can see shades of the Indian captain in Siraj’s attitude. As long as it works for him in a positive manner, there is no need to tone down Hyderabadi’s aggression.
3. He is the perfect foil to Shami-Bumrah
Even before Siraj’s arrival, India had a potent pace bowling attack in Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma, with Umesh Yadav for back-up. However, injuries provided an unlikely opening to Siraj, and he has broken open the door with some fantastic performances. Siraj has the x-factor about him that, which separates him from the other pacers in the team. Thanks to his brilliant efforts, he has pushed himself above Ishant and Yadav in the pecking order. He can either open the bowling or come in one change as well, making him a real plus to the side.
4. He has the skills to succeed
Aggression and heart for a fight aside, Siraj also has the genuine skills of a fast bowler. In other words, there is substance to his style. He bowls some wonderful wicket-taking deliveries. The same was evident in Australia and at Lord’s as well. Siraj dismissed Moeen Ali and Sam Curran with two cracking deliveries to break open the match. He then finished off England by bowling India to a famous victory, again with impressive wicket-taking balls. India couldn’t have asked for more from him at Lord’s.
5. With experience, he can only get better
In the euphoria of his recent success, it is easy to forget that he is only seven Tests old. Siraj has made an impactful start with 27 wickets at an average of 26.29. What has been good to see is that he has not been overawed by the big occasion, which can happen with some newcomers. Of course, he too will have his bad days. However, if he keeps his wits about him, he should be a genuine match-winner for India on a consistent basis.