I judge myself through my rhythm not number of wickets: Mohammed Siraj
He did have issues with rhythm in the past couple of games, but Mohammed Siraj's parameter for judging himself is consistency in delivering the ball in good areas rather than the volume of wickets taken. Siraj has taken nine wickets from seven games so far and, after the Pakistan game, once again looked in rhythm during his wonderful spell of 3/16 in 7 overs as India bowled Sri Lanka out for a paltry 55.
"Taking wickets is important, and there is no doubt about that. But my rhythm was not consistent for the last 2-3 matches; sometimes I was in rhythm, and sometimes I was not," Siraj told the media in the mixed zone after India's massive 302-run win at the Wankhede Stadium.
Statistics don't always reflect a true picture, and Siraj doesn't want to be critical of himself regarding the number of wickets in his kitty.
"I am not judging myself by the number of wickets taken. The fact that I was able to consistently land the ball in good areas and the swing I got, as you saw, makes me very happy. I want to carry this momentum forward," he said.
The Sri Lanka game was one where his execution was picture-perfect.
"Whatever I had planned coming into this match brought me success, and whatever I had thought of, I was able to execute. I am happy that we have qualified for the semifinals as well," he added.
With Mohammed Shami producing his second five-wicket haul in three games and Jasprit Bumrah consistently performing at the top of his game, there are talks going around that this bowling lineup is India's best. However, Siraj does not want to get drawn into such discussions or comparisons.
"When we are doing well, everyone keeps saying that the combination is good. But when the performances go down, there are talks about dropping this bowler or that one," he said.
Siraj also doesn't like the talk of changing combinations every second game.
"With just one bad game, everyone talks about changes in the combination and dropping players. We are keeping all the negatives outside and carrying all the positives along with us," Siraj added.
Siraj expressed happiness in the fact that each of India's bowling attack members has stepped up at various stages of their World Cup campaign, and he highlights sharing of information and relaying crucial messages to each other during the games as one of the key factors.
"As you can see, our fast bowling unit is very good. If I am not getting wickets, Shami bhai is stepping in and taking them, or Jassi bhai (Jasprit Bumrah) is. It's going very well for us fast bowlers, we discuss what is the better line and length to bowl on a particular wicket," Siraj said.
"We are passing on these messages to each other, which is very important. In the 50-overs format, when you take a wicket or two in the powerplay, the opposition team is pushed on the back foot. It is very important to take wickets early, and that is happening, so we want to continue with this momentum," he added.
As the leader of the pack, it is Bumrah who provides input on what lengths to bowl on a particular track.
"When Jassi bhai bowls, he gets an idea of what line and length is better on a wicket. He relays the same message to us, and I also communicate with KL (Rahul) bhai because from his position, he can see how much the ball is swinging or how much movement there is off the seam," Siraj said.
"I get alerted to these messages. For instance, say the ball is not swinging, but I still try to find some swing. If there is nothing, then I switch to generating seam movement. It is very good for us as fast bowlers to receive such messages and also for the team," he replied when asked about the kind of messages exchanged between the bowlers on the field during a match.
The right-arm pacer also praised India's vice-captain and wicketkeeper-batter KL Rahul for consistently making accurate judgments in DRS calls.
On Thursday, with the umpire calling a delivery from Shami down the leg as a wide, Rahul asked for a DRS intervention, and the replays showed that the ball had indeed brushed Dushmantha Chameera's gloves.
"As a wicketkeeper, it is important to determine where the ball is hitting, whether it is going down, or if it's hitting the stump. He gets a good view from behind, and he is making some very accurate calls. He practiced a lot during his injury layoff and in rehab; he had some good hits. It is working out very well for him as a wicketkeeper and for the team," Siraj said.
Siraj said dismissing Sri Lanka batters Dasun Shanaka in the Asia Cup final and Kusal Mendis on identical deliveries were both special to him.
"Both dismissals were similar. Shanaka's got me the five-wicket haul. Both are good because I have not taken many wickets bowling wide of the crease. Whatever I thought of, I was able to execute," he said.