Mohammed Siraj, who opted to stay on with the India squad in Australia after his father died recently in Hyderabad, said the words of his mother and captain Virat Kohli helped him make the decision.
“In this situation, the way the whole team has supported me felt very nice,” Siraj told bcci.tv. “They ensured there were no difficulties. Virat bhai said, ‘Miyan, don’t take tension. Stay strong because it was your dad’s dream that you do this (play for India), so do that. If you stay strong through this, it will be good for both you and your family.’ That was a very positive message for me, and I felt very nice.”
Siraj was offered the option to fly back home by the BCCI, but given the quarantine rules in place, he would have had to spend 14 days in isolation if he had travelled home and then flown back to rejoin the team in Australia.
“I spoke to my mom and she told me, ‘Son, everyone has to go some day. Today dad has gone, tomorrow I will have to go, you will also have to someday. Dad always wanted you to play for India, so you stay there, and do that. Perform well for India.’
“The person who used to support me the most is gone, it’s a big loss for me,” Siraj said. “He always wanted me to play for India and bring glory to the country. So my mindset henceforth is just that I fulfil his dream. My dad is not there in this world, but I know that he’s always there with me. I’m going ahead thinking that.”
Siraj is part of India’s Test squad, part of a strong pace attack that has Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini, with Ishant Sharma also a possibility to join the team.
India coach Ravi Shastri said the fast-bowling attack was capable of delivering a second successive series victory in Australia if the batsmen put runs on the board.
“We have a fabulous five,” Shastri was quoted as saying by Sportstar. “Yadav has the experience. Saini is young and fast. Bumrah one of the best in business. Shami is raring to go. Siraj is an exciting prospect. You put up runs on the board and watch these fast bowlers hunt the opposition. They can beat Australia in their own den.”