Mohammed Siraj, who took a three-wicket haul with the new ball in an economical spell against Kolkata Knight Riders last week, has finally been rewarded for his performances in domestic first-class cricket and for India A with the national selectors naming him in the Test squad for the upcoming Australia tour.
Although the 26-year-old has played in ODIs (1) and T20Is (3), this is his maiden entry into the Test squad.
Even as his IPL career went up and down since he joined Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2018 after a decent year with SunRisers Hyderabad in 2017, Siraj continued to pick wickets in first-class cricket at home, leading his team’s pace attack in Ranji Trophy and also featuring with wickets for India A.
He took an eight-wicket haul against Australia A in Bengaluru in 2018 to come into national contention. The haul, a record for India A, followed a few fifers and four-wicket hauls against South Africa A and West Indies A that year. He also performed against England Lions.
2018 was a breakthrough one as earlier he had clicked, taking wickets by the bucketful in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Although a favorite to make the Test squad, he was rewarded with an ODI cap in January 2019. However, he failed to perform and was sent back to the domestic grind.
He struggled to put up performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL) not just because he had little opportunity to bowl with the new ball but also because the shortest format doesn’t suit him as well as the days’ format does.
Siraj’s RCB skipper Virat Kohli had said that the bowler had to face a lot of criticism last year and he has worked hard to make a comeback.
“Last year he had a tough year and a lot of people went quite hard at him. This time around he worked hard, he was really determined, and in practice as well, he was hitting the right areas, talking to the bowling coach,” said Kohli after the match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).