Mohammed Siraj couldn’t have hoped for a better Test debut than the one he was involved in. India vs Australia, Boxing Day Test, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It’s what dreams are made of and on Saturday, Siraj, who earned India’s 298th Test cap, made the occasion even more special by turning up a performance that pleased the onlookers. It was little surprise that after the end of play on the opening day, Siraj admitted that getting the India Test cap was the biggest achievement of his life.
It took Siraj time before he was finally handed the ball. Ajinkya Rahane tossed the ball over to the 26-year-old in the 28th over of the innings and after a decent couple of overs, Siraj was taken off the attack. However, his second spell right after lunch is when Siraj started making heads turn with his swing. With Australia in the middle of a rebuilding phase, with Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head adding 86 runs for the fourth wicket, Siraj delivered a timely strike for India sending back the dangerous Labuschagne out caught at short fine leg. Siraj picked up another wicket – of all-rounder Cameron Green – to finish with 2/40 as India bowled out Australia for 195.
Siraj’s outing impressed many, including former Australia batsman Michael Hussey, who was in awe of the fast bowler, especially his second spell, where he generated movement both sides. However, what Hussey lik
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ed the most was how Siraj was enjoying each and every moment of being an Indian Test cricketer.
“I thought he was excellent. What I liked the most about him is that he had the biggest smile on his face the whole day. He was loving being out there, loving charging in when he got his opportunity to bowl and giving his best efforts. I thought in his first spell, he was very composed,” Hussey said on ESPNCricinfo.
“It’s not easy – you’re playing your first Test – a boxing Day Test, at the MCG… huge occasion, and he looked calm and in control of his emotions. Yeah, maybe he could have bowled a little bit better but his second spell is when he really came into his own.”
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Once the ball got a bit old, there was more movement on offer, which Siraj exploited. In fact, so impressed was Hussey with Siraj that he felt the fast bowler looked like ‘picking a wicket’ every ball.
“The ball was a little bit older and it was interesting that a few of the Indian bowlers… I feel as though they ball better when the ball does get old. Probably a product of being brought up on those flat Indian pitches. Very skilful, you swing the ball late both ways and picked up a couple of crucial wickets for India. You got a feeling that he was going to get a wicket almost every ball,” Hussey pointed out.
Siraj’s first Test wicket might be Labuschagne, but the wicket of Green is the one which Siraj will remember for a long time. It was the perfect set up, making the batsman anticipate something else. After bowling two overs of outswingers to Green, Siraj foxed the all-rounder with an inswinger that trapped the batsman out LBW, and that Hussey reckons, demonstrates Siraj’s maturity.
“The one I enjoyed the most was the Cameron Green wicket. He set him up beautifully. He got a couple of balls to swing away. He almost just dragged his head across the crease and darted that inswinger to get him out LBW. It was a great set up and great execution, and it shows that he has a great head on his shoulders,” Hussey explained.
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