India pacer Mohammed Siraj has opened up about his emotional battle after losing his father during the Australia tour, saying he would often cry in his room while staying inside the COVID-induced bio-bubble.
The pacer from Hyderabad lost his father Mohammed Ghaus after a brief illness in November, 2020 when he was in Australia. He couldn’t attend his funeral due to quarantine restrictions which were in place due to the global pandemic.
”In Australia, nobody could visit other players’ rooms as we spoke on video calls,” Siraj, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, told RCB Season 2 Podcast.
”But Sridhar sir (former India fielding coach R Sridhar) used to call often asking how are you, what have you eaten etc. It was a good feeling and my fiance was also talking to me (over phone) at that time.
”I never cried on the phone but there were occasions when I would cry in the room and then will talk to her later.” Siraj, who turned 29 on Monday, also recollected how then head coach Ravi Shastri supported and encouraged him.
”I went to training the next day after my father’s demise and Ravi Shastri told me that I have my dad’s blessing and I will take a five-wicket haul. When I took five wickets at Brisbane, he told me: ‘Look, what did I tell you that you will take five wickets’.
”It was a lot of fun when my dad was around because he wanted to see his son’s success. He took a lot of pride and joy in seeing me putting all the hard work.
”I always wanted to perform in front of my dad, and the dream did come true but how I wish I could do it more.” Siraj, who was India’s highest wicket-taker with 13 scalps during the historic 2-1 series win, also recalled how the team battled through multiple injuries to key players to script a historic win in the fourth Test at Brisbane.
”I enjoyed bowling the most in Australia because I became a leader of the pace attack as all main bowlers were injured. Bowling with the new ball was a different feeling altogether. It was a big responsibility and I was so happy that I could fulfil it. ”I wasn’t even aware that Jassi bhai (Jasprit Bumrah) was not playing the last Test and I got to know about it when I came to the ground for the warm-ups. We were informed in the team huddle that Jassi bhai was not playing.
”I was shocked to hear that as the whole bowling line-up is so young. I have played just two matches while Shardul (Thakur) and Navdeep Saini have played one match each. But there was this unity among the youngsters which helped us in that match.” Siraj also had a memorable outing in England in 2021 when he returned with a match-haul of eight wickets to power India to a 151-run win at Lord’s.
”We were 175 for 6 in the second innings and wanted to get as close to 200, a total that we were confident of defending. But there was a great partnership between Jassi bhai and (Mohammed) Shami bhai and we got 250-plus on the board,” said Siraj.
”It was a different feeling and we declared the innings. Then Virat bhai told us that we have 70 overs and bowl those overs with all (your) heart and make them feel 70 overs of hell. So, it gave us a lot of motivation and aggression.
”We all know about Virat bhai’s aggression and seeing it we all get motivated. We made English batsmen think: ‘is it our home ground or their home ground’.”