Boxing Day Test: Siraj Magic kills it

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“Sarakku iruku paiyan-kitte” (‘the kid has great talent, he has the goods),” Bharat Arun, Team India’s bowling coach, would typically say about Mohammed Siraj. “You suggest something and he has the skill and temperament to produce it perfectly,” phrases to that impact. Arun has been speaking up Siraj over the past 14 months or so. Another rave that he would typically use was “Test-match bowler, red-ball bowler releasing soon!”

If Arun’s appreciation was real, so was the gratitude in Siraj’s response. “Arun sir is a farishta, (guardian angel), he came in my life and changed everything. The confidence he gave me was limitless, the way he backs me. He would say, ‘Tu tension nako-rey (don’t take tension), you will play for India’,” Siraj shared in a video-diary put out by his IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore couple of months again.

The quick background story of the 2 is that when Arun was RCB’s assistant coach, he was impressed with Siraj, who had come to bowl on the nets in Hyderabad. When Arun took over as Hyderabad’s Ranji Trophy coach within the subsequent home season, his strike bowler was Siraj, who completed because the third-highest wicket-taker within the nation. The happiest and proudest particular person on the MCG at Siraj’s artful debut would have undoubtedly been Arun.

READ | With dreamy debut, Mohammed Siraj fulfils late father’s dream

Debuts of bowlers are often noticed for what they do. The tangibles: the outswingers, nip-backers, leg- cutters, reverse swing and such. Also the intangibles: whether or not they belong at this degree. Siraj has ticked that field as nicely. He got here throughout as a considering bowler. He bowled to a area, caught to the team-plan and tailored to the state of affairs.

“Maut daal diyen, miyan,” R Sridhar, India’s fielding coach, would inform Siraj, in an end-of-day video put out by BCCI on his debut day. (‘You killed it!’, in Hyderabadi slang). AB de Villiers prefixed the moniker ‘Magic’ to miyan within the most-recent IPL the place Siraj turned ‘MiyanMagic.

“AB sir gave me that, it’s also very good (name)!” says Siraj in that RCB video, the place he talks about his household’s monetary struggles, his love for his father, his hero-worship of Virat Kohli and the life-lesson from Dhoni to ‘ignore opinions’.

Conditions in MCG didn’t enable Siraj to supply a dream ball just like the one he unsheathed to knock out Prithvi Shaw’s off-stump this IPL, however MiyanMagic actually killed it within the spell he bowled to Cameron Green, doing his finest to wash out the halo from Australia’s new marvel boy. The plan laid out for him was clear: Go for the lbw.

The speedy sequence of the wicket-taking over has been understandably talked about – three reverse-swinging balls that tailed away outdoors off earlier than the in-swinging pad-crasher took Green out – however the effort had began method again. The wicket got here within the 62nd over, the method began within the 48th, unfold over both facet of the tea break. Patience, focus, ability, and the power to outlast and outwit.

For two full overs at Green earlier than tea, Siraj repeatedly saved bending the ball again in, incomes one good lbw shout. Post tea, with a brief midwicket and quick square-leg, he saved curving them again in. Only at Green, thoughts you. Whenever Tim Paine got here on strike, he moved them away with the shiny facet. Already, the management over reverse swing was noteworthy.

Green did nicely to get his fingers forward of his pad and work the balls to the onside. Again, and once more. This is when Siraj determined to combine it up. In the following over, 60th of the innings, he had three balls at Green – all shaping away. The first three balls of the following over, the 62nd, reversed away once more. So six in a row, now. It was then the total ball, reversing-in, re-appeared on the crime scene to ram into the pad. No marvel Siraj was so thrilled, for the hassle had lasted almost eight overs that included a break for some tea and chips earlier than he might have Green for dessert.

In the interim, he had taken out Marnus Labuschagne with a full ball tailing in, that was flicked to leg-gully. He tried the trick once more on Day Three. Five of his first six balls had been on the stumps, making an attempt for the lbw, with the aerial flick as a bonus takeaway. The seventh reduce in sharply from outdoors off and led to an excellent lbw shout. The subsequent ball was one other hat-tip to Siraj’s presence of thoughts and accuracy. A pointy well-directed bouncer arrived and Labuschagne virtually holed up simply past square-leg with a weak pull. Maut daal diye, miyan!

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