After the handshakes and high-fives that followed his first five for tryout cricket, Mohammed Siraj broke up with his ecstatic teammates and took a moment to himself. He stood alone, gazed thoughtfully at the sky, and seemed to offer a silent prayer. In the greatest moment of his career, perhaps life, he missed his father the most, who endlessly supported his son’s dreams despite meager means, but died weeks before Siraj made his Test debut. in Melbourne.
Later at the press conference, hiding tears behind his broad, warm smile, Siraj dedicated his five-wicket transport to his father. “My father wished his son would play and the whole world would watch him. It was because of his blessings that I had a transport of five wickets in the tests. I am speechless and I cannot express my feelings in words, ”he said. He regained his composure and even found a little humor towards the end of the interaction. As when asked about minor incidents off the ground, he replied, “Bubble mein kya pyaara hoga moments, sir?” (what memorable moment can we have in a bubble?)
Siraj breathes and wears an Old Hyderabad simplicity – but don’t let drummers be fooled by his gentle nature. He is shy but intelligent, reluctant but not reluctant, soft-spoken but hard at heart. He has not denied the alleged racial taunts he has been subjected to in Sydney, has done nothing stupid to respond to them and has not shown his injury on the pitch. In this sense, he embodied the tenacity rooted in this Indian side.
Hardened by adversity
If Australia thought they could feast on an Indian bowling brigade that was gradually weakening as the series progressed, they were grossly mistaken. The injuries continued to pile up and they lost their figureheads one after another. But India did not wallow in their misfortune. Each time they hit, they got harder. They lost Mohammed Shami; they discovered Siraj. They lost Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur raised his hand. They lost Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, but found Washington Sundar and T Natarajan. Not identical replacements by any stretch of the imagination, always full of flaws and calluses, but they did their job, manly and stoically.
Prior to this match, the five-pronged Indian bowling company had a collective experience of four test matches and only shared 13 test victims between them. Australia’s corresponding figures are 1,013 in 246 tests. The chasm of experience yawned, but it didn’t matter much to the noticeably hotchpotch group. He was not lacking in self-confidence, courage, skill or endurance. For the second time in that game, all 10 wickets chose, with seconds set preventing Australia from charging at the start of Day 4. The hosts hit hard and gathered 294 points, setting India a formidable goal of 328, but not before Indian bowlers. a lively performance, which illustrates both heart and expertise. One that should be counted among one of their best performances in Australia.
Check Australian progress
At one point, Australia seemed on its way to an insurmountable total. David Warner’s bat flew belligerent blows that offered a throwback to the halcyon days when their openers attacked bowlers with new balls without a grain of pity. Marcus Harris also crossed some limits, as Australia grew to 89 in just 24.5 overs, the best run rate in the entire series. Then, out of nowhere, Thakur produced an uncomfortable bouncer. He doesn’t quite have the pace to instill a fear of life in drummers, but could compensate for it with precision and length precision. The ball landed in line with Harris’ body and climbed over him. He was caught in two minds – cut the top or dodge. It is the indecision that the pure and simple lack of rhythm could cause. Eventually, when he decided to bail the shot, it was too late, Harris pushed his gloves defensively at the ball into a semi-squat position.
The dismissal proved Thakur’s heightened self-awareness. He might not have the pace to discourage drummers, but he certainly has the craft to disturb them. Just like Washington. He’s not Ashwin with a sack full of stuff, but that hasn’t stopped him from devouring Warner. He stole that bullet more than he usually does. Warner figured the ball would turn away from him and went over the hindfoot. But he gave a right kick to hit the back leg, just in front of the stump. The counters stopped the Australian momentum.
It was the opportunity for Siraj to intervene afterwards. This summer he broke off the most dangerous of Australian partnerships, between Steve Smith and his protégé Marnus Labuschagne, both supporting the momentum the forerunners had provided. Siraj devoured Labuschagne and Matthew Wade in the space of three deliveries to beat Australia 123/4. In the next 24 rounds, India has remained silent, conceding just 73 points. And just as Smith seemed to speed up, moving from third to fifth, Siraj, relentless in energy and intensity, paused again. After dropping Smith twice, once from his own bowling alley, he whipped a short ball, which jumped out of his gloves and ended up in Ajinkya Rahane’s hands at the gully. Of all his 13 wickets in the series, this was his favorite, Siraj said.
Change of approach
Smith’s exit has forced Australia to reassess its plans. Their hope of reaching a total of around 350 has faded, and now they have had to preserve the wickets to avoid defeat. They decelerated, overeating, and it wasn’t until later in the day that they pushed for fast runs. They had to contain their own emergency, in the wake of tight Indian bowling. That was the difference between the Indian drummers who had to negotiate more than the 1.5 they finally did before the rain fell. Everyone has played their part, including the cashless T Natarajan. So much so that the reduced influence of the injured Navdeep Saini, who only played five, went largely unnoticed.
So, whatever the outcome of the match – taking 20 wickets alone wouldn’t be enough to draw or win a test match abroad – the feat they achieved in Brisbane should be counted as one of the best performances of bowling from India to Australia. It’s unclear if all of them would be in the same test, if they would play another test at all, but none of them would forget Gabba 2021. Indian cricket either. And no one has embodied the collective struggle better than Siraj.