Every summer, Indian Premier League (IPL) has pitch-forked one player or other into the national cricketing consciousness. IPL 2017 has been no exception, and one such player is Sunrisers Hyderabad pacer, Mohammed Siraj.
From the dusty bylanes of Hyderabad to the big stage, the 23-year-old son of an autorickshaw driver is living a dream. Bought by SRH for Rs 2.6 crore, from a base price 20 lakh, Siraj is playing a pivotal role for David Warner’s team with Ashish Nehra injured. Siraj was instrumental in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s victory over Gujarat Lions in their last league match, which helped them qualify for the playoffs.
“The IPL is turning out to be a beautiful dream for me. It will be more special when we reach the final and win the title,” said Siraj, who scalped Ishan Kishan, Suresh Raina, James Faulkner and Pradeep Sangwan to return 4 for 32 and claim the Man-of-the-Match award against Gujarat Lions.
Solid Ranji show
Siraj was the second-highest wicket-taker - 41 - among pacers in the Ranji Trophy last season and played an important role in Hyderabad reaching the knockouts for the first time in five seasons. Now, he is learning the tricks of the trade in IPL from Warner, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuvraj Singh, Nehra and coach Tom Moody.
“From the first day, I have been encouraged by my seniors. Sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming to receive such importance. I did not play against Royal Challengers Bangalore, but being a Virat Kohli fan, I went up to him and asked for a selfie.
“The exposure has been life-changing. I have not travelled by air so much or lived in luxury hotels. The IPL has introduced me to such opportunities. I am not going to waste the start I have got and will carry forward the form in Ranji Trophy. I want to make my parents proud and don India colours,” Siraj, who lives in a modest two-room house in Hyderabad, told HT. He has played 11 first-class matches, taking 44 wickets. He has taken 10 wickets in this IPL.
Sunrisers Hyderabad buying him in the auctions made him an instant hero in his neighbourhood. Whenever Sunrisers Hyderabad play, his family and friends arrange a big LED screen to watch the action. “I was shocked to hear my name in the auction with such big money. I am thankful to Allah for such a chance. My family and friends are very excited ahead of the playoff (against Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday). I want to do it for them and make them proud.”
Siraj’s father Mohammed Ghouse stopped driving the auto-rickshaw a day after the auction while his mother Shabana Begum too is very happy.
“My parents are enjoying life now. They have done a lot for me and my brother. It is my duty to repay now. God willing, Sunrisers Hyderabad will win the title and we will be celebrating soon in the neighbourhood. A lot of things are on my mind. A bigger house and other things for parents.”