Learnt what lengths to bowl in different phases during IPL: Siraj

The fast bowler from Hyderabad says he will focus on his strengths in South Africa

With 41-wickets in the Ranji Trophy 2016-17, Mohammed Siraj became a bowler to watch out for. The fast bowler from Hyderabad who made his first-class debut in 2015 and had played only match went on to perform consistently through the 2016-17 season including the Indian Premier League. His efforts have earned him a call up into the India ‘A’ team for the tour to South Africa. The 23-year old has been named in both - the one-day as well as the four-day squad for the forthcoming tour.

Speaking to
bcci.tv about the opportunity to represent India ‘A’, Siraj said, “This is a good opportunity for me and I will try to make the most of it. I would like to perform and make it count as I look to play for India in the future. God willing my dream will come true. People at home and my team-mates are very happy that I have been selected for India ‘A’,” he mentioned.

The bowler whose bouncer has been much talked about says that it comes to him naturally. “It is a natural delivery for me and it comes on quickly (at the batsman). I will focus on where I pitch it,” he said when asked about how he works on the delivery.

However, before becoming a part of the Hyderabad squad, the lanky bowler played tennis-ball cricket and said that he had no idea of movement and other such technicalities of bowling. It was under the guidance of Bharat Arun that he worked more on his bowling. “I used to play tennis-ball cricket. Before playing in the Ranji Trophy, I didn’t know anything about things like seam or swing. All I knew was to bowl on one spot and that’s what I would do. Now I know other things like reverse swing,” Siraj said while reflecting on his early days.

“I got to learn a lot from Bharat Sir during the Ranji Trophy. He would tell me to keep bowling in one area, bowl your stock ball to whoever the batsman is and back yourself. The batsman will make a mistake and you will get a wicket,” he added.

Speaking about his strengths, Siraj said, “I try to hit the fourth stump from good length regardless of whether I am playing with the white ball or red ball. That is what I focus on.”

Playing with the likes of Ashish Nehra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and coach Tom Moody around for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the IPL provided a learning ground for the youngster. Recalling the experience, he said, “I learnt a lot about things like what lengths to bowl in different phases of the game which worked and helped me succeed.”

While learning from his team-mates, Siraj also had an opportunity to bowl to international batsmen in the IPL. “In T20s, the batsmen hit a good ball as well. I bowl my stock ball, which is helpful while bowling to the international batsmen,” he said while talking about the opportunity.

When asked what is he anticipating from the tour and the conditions, Siraj said, “I don’t know how the wickets will be in South Africa. I will go there and see. In one-dayers, I will work on bowling yorkers in death overs and things like that. I will focus on my strengths whether it is a multi-day or a one-day game and do what I have been doing in domestic cricket.”

Prajakta Pawar
Prajakta Pawar

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Playing together for India is our collective dream: Krunal Pandya

Having got a step closer with his maiden India A call-up, Pandya Sr. is open to all roles

When the India A team for the tour of South Africa was announced, it was way past midnight in Antigua, but there was one man not willing to hit the sack. He would have probably got a good night’s sleep after a phone call made back home in India. The Pandya brothers - Krunal and Hardik - talk daily, but this phone call was special. Though miles apart from each other, the two on Thursday were one step closer to realizing their dream of playing for India together.

For the first time, elder brother Krunal was named in the India A side. The all-rounder was included in the one-day side for the tour starting next month with Australia being the third team. “We speak daily, but today he stayed up to congratulate me. It is our collective to dream to play for India together. Getting selected for the India A team is great news and everyone in our family is delighted,” an elated Krunal told
BCCI.TV.

Krunal’s selection follows his impressive performance in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and IPL 10. He was Baroda’s top scorer with 366 runs that included three half centuries in the domestic 50-over tournament. In the concluded season of IPL, he scored 243 runs and picked 10 wickets and an economy rate of under seven. In the final, Krunal hit 47 from 38 balls and opened the bowling (4-0-31-0) for Mumbai Indians. He was declared Man of the Match in the thrilling one-run win in the final that helped MI secure their third IPL title.

Often troubled by injuries, Krunal has raced against time to be in race for India A spots. Before IPL 9, Krunal had missed the domestic season owing to a shoulder injury and in the last season he hurt his quadriceps while fielding.

He was sidelined for three months and it was at NCA that he got back on the path of recovery. “A lot of credit must go to our NCA trainer Rajnikant (Strength & Conditioning Coach). He really looked after me. There was a sling strapped to my leg and for three months I had to take the help of a walker to move around. Injuries are not easy to deal with. I had to be strong mentally and to tell you frankly, I am happy with the way I have returned after each setback.”

Former India wicket-keeper Kiran More first saw Krunal when he was seven. The former chief selector was happy to see his ward progress. “When the Pandya brothers had come to my academy they had a dream to play for India but did not even know how to hold a bat. Krunal has missed a lot of cricket owing to injuries, but credit to him for the way he has shown his character whenever he has got the opportunity. I always tell the boys that performance is in your hands and you must focus on that. Krunal has performed really well. He has a lot of potential and has worked doubly hard to be here post injuries,” said More.

In the IPL, Krunal proved his versatility as an all-rounder. His agility and sharp fielding make him a complete package. The 26-year-old said he was open to any role. “We must remember that cricket is a team sport. From the start of my career, I did not limit myself to a particular role. I believe in flexibility and always look forward to playing different roles for the team. I never hesitate. For MI, I have bowled in Powerplay and even in the slog overs. Even in the batting department, I have virtually batted at every position in the middle-order.

“I relish pressure situations. The satisfaction you get from helping your team out of trouble is unmatched.”

He added that once the team arrives in South Africa, he will look to perform from the word go. “It is a very important tour of me. I will get to learn a lot. The conditions are going to be different, but the goal is to hit the ground running and deliver in the same manner as I did in the IPL.”

He was a bit emotional as the talk veered on his early days. “We had moved to Baroda from Surat when we were still kids. My parents have sacrificed a lot. It is thanks to them that we have reached this stage. I also thank my coach Jitendra Singh. I am not going to be content playing a few matches for India A. My eventual goal is to play for India and that is the target.

Moulin Parikh
Moulin Parikh

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