Among the heroes of triumphant Indian cricket team which won the four-match Test series in Australia, Mohammed Siraj's story on and off field is inspiring. Working hard to find a way into the Indian cricket team and many sacrifices by Siraj and his family are truly heart touching.
Son of a autorickshaw driver, Siraj lost his father on November 20, 2020, when the paceman was in Australia with Indian team. Siraj had the option of coming back for his father's funeral but he stayed on and became part of memorable feat. Upon reaching Hyderabad, Siraj straight away went to his father's grave and prayed.
Here are excerpts from an exclusive interview...
Surely it must be a mixed feeling for you Siraj. On one hand, you lost your father but on the other your contribution in the historic Test series win in Australia. Especially you performance in last Test at Gabba must be a moment to cherish. How do you look at these both?
Yes it was gham and khushi (sad and happy) moment for me. I wish my father was there to see this as he was very keen that I perform to the very best of my abilities for the team and win laurels for the country. I am sure his blessings will be always there for me.
After learning that your father passed away you must have thought of coming back for his funeral but you stayed on. We were told that it was your mother who talked and convinced you that you stay back and concentrate on cricket. Would you tell us about those testing times on personal front?
I would like to say that my mother too, shared the same feeling as my father and told me to stay on with the Indian team and do my best. Yes, she used to talk to me for hours in the evening when I used to return from ground. She convinced me to stay back and also said that personal loss should not affect on my performance on ground. Another important thing I would like to tell you that during our struggling days, my parents encouraged me to play cricket when my elder was studying engineering. I assured them I will become good cricketer.
Tell us about those friends who stood by you during your early days.
I would like to tell you about Sharu (Mohd Shafi), my childhood friend, who also played tennis ball cricket with me and who still plays cricket tournaments. Sharu used to ensure that I go to home straight from ground and take rest and used to ensure with my brother and parents that I get enough rest and sleep. He used to accompany me to grounds. I am happy to share with him many memorable moments, especially the ones in Australia.
With your fantastic performance in Australia, especially the five-wicket haul in last Test, you are in big league now and rightly seen as future of Indian cricket. How challenging will be this responsibility?
Yes, it will be challenging and I am ready for it. I surely know I have to continue to work hard, perform well, keep my confidence up and above all take care of my fitness. Inshallah.