Chennai, April 8: Mohammed Siraj is on the ascendancy from India's tour of Australia. But there was a time in his life when the pacer was low on confidence and joining the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad, repleted with established stars, only added to the pressure.
Siraj did struggle a bit in the IPL 2019 but the Royal Challengers kept their faith in him and the Hyderabad man rewarded the team with a much improved effort in the IPL 2020. Now, he wants to contribute big to the team in the IPL 2021, beginning on April 9.
Siraj also revealed how he made his turnaround as an IPL bowler. "Last year, when I joined RCB, I was low on confidence. But when I started bowling with the new ball, I was also bowling on a single wicket, which helped me a lot," he said. "And then the performance against KKR gave me a lot of confidence. The team culture here is so nice that everyone used to get together and discuss stuff like Virat does," said Siraj in a video posted in the official Twitter handle of RCB.
Siraj also said feedback from RCB batting coach Sanjay Bangar helped him grow as a bowler. "I was talking to Sanjay sir. He told me that my rhythm is good. I am meeting you after so long but you are putting in the same effort that you used to put for the Indian team. Your rhythm, aggression and confidence ... it is all looking nice, so continue that."
The lanky pacer also was chuffed with the fact that he got a chance to play with senior pros like Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah. "Jasprit Bumrah used to stand beside me whenever I was bowling. He told me to stick to the basics and not do something extra. It's nice to learn from such an experienced player. I even played with Ishant Sharma, and he has played 100 Tests. It felt good to share the dressing room with him. My dream is to be the highest wicket-taker for India and I will work hard whenever I get an opportunity."
Siraj also expressed his gratitude for Bharat Arun, the India bowling coach, for mentoring and guiding him. "Arun sir treats me like a son. When I talk to him, it boosts my confidence. When he was in Hyderabad, he always told me to focus on line and length. I want to play all three formats for India. Whatever opportunities I get, I want to give my 100 per cent and grab them with both hands. There is a series against England after the IPL, I will give my best."
Siraj had lost his father during the tour of Australia but could not fly back. Siraj said the support of family helped him stay focussed on cricket. "During Australia tour, I was in quarantine and when we came back from practice, I got to know my father passed away. Unfortunately, no one could come to my room," Siraj said.
"I called home, my fiancée and mother were very supportive and they told me that I need to fulfil my father's dream of seeing me play for India."
On living inside a bio-bubble, Siraj said: "Bubble life is really difficult because can't step out. But this is helping players become stronger. Now there is more time to think about performance. I was working hard on my fitness during the lockdown, when I bowled during the (Australia) Test series, I realised how much it helped me," he said.