'I was picked for Rest of India and because of the Ranji Trophy I got the IPL deal. So 60 per cent credit for this call-up is my performance in first-class cricket'
'I can't tell you how happy I am. When I told my parents, they were speechless. It's a dream come true'
The day Mohammed Siraj was selected by Sunrisers Hyderabad at the IPL auction earlier this year for a whopping Rs 2.6 crore, he had only one dream: to never let his father Mohammed Ghaus drive an auto rickshaw again. And he kept his promise!
Savouring his call-up to the Indian team for the Twenty20 series against New Zealand, one could gauge the sense of satisfaction in Siraj's voice.
"I feel proud that at 23 I am good enough to shoulder the responsibility of my family. The day I got an IPL contract I told my father that I won't let him work anymore. Usi din se maine father ko bola ki aap abhi rest kaaro (that very day I told dad that now you can rest). And, yes, I have shifted with my family to a new house," declared Siraj on Monday.
The 23-year-old right-arm pacer was on the fringe of selection after some decent performances for India A, but he did not expect a call-up this early.
"I knew that some time in future I will get a call-up but did not expect it this soon. I can't tell you how happy I am. When I told my parents, they were speechless. It's a dream come true," said an ecstatic Siraj, who is gearing up for Tuesday’s Ranji Trophy game against Karnataka.
While the Indian Premier League got him recognition, Siraj feels his hard work in the Ranji Trophy during the 2016-17 season for Hyderabad resulted in all the success that’s come his way.
"Whatever I am today is primarily because of the Ranji Trophy performance. My 40-odd wickets last season gave me the confidence. There's nothing like getting wickets in first-class cricket. I was picked for Rest of India after that and because of the Ranji Trophy I got the IPL deal. So 60 per cent credit for this call-up is (my) performance in first-class cricket," he said.
Siraj said India’s bowling coach Bharath Arun's tips when he was with Hyderabad last year was of immense help.
"I can't tell you how much I am indebted to Bharath Arun sir. He is a brilliant coach. Last year he was with the Hyderabad team and for the first time I got an insight to the kind of variations needed to survive at the highest level. He told me about the variations in slower deliveries, how to bowl a knuckle ball. All these things helped me when I played IPL," the speedster revealed.
He also thanked Sunrisers teammate Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashish Nehra for their encouragement during the cash-rich league.
"Bhuvibhai encouraged me a lot during the IPL. He would come up with lot of valuable suggestions on what areas to hit at the death, the lengths for particular batsmen."
Playing for India A during the past few months, which included a trip to South Africa and matches against New Zealand A, has helped him mature as a bowler.
India A coach Rahul Dravid told him that he does not need to try anything fancy and keep on doing what has worked for him till now.
"Dravid sir told me that I need not change anything in my bowling. His advice has been pretty simple. Do what has got you success till now. Hopefully, I can replicate my success at the highest level."