From Hyderabad to Lord's via Melbourne: The Mohammed Siraj and Bharat Arun relation behind India's new pace sensation

  • The seeds of the guile that Siraj showed at Lord’s a few days ago were sown in the Old Hyderabad city but he needed someone to nurture. He got that in Bharat Arun.
India's Mohammed Siraj celebrates.(AP)
India's Mohammed Siraj celebrates.(AP)
Updated on Aug 21, 2021 07:12 AM IST
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ByAritra Mukherjee

There is something about Mohammed Siraj that makes you forget about everything and concentrate on that 5’10’’ frame of his. He doesn’t even need a ball in his hand or dare we say, a bat to keep everyone hooked. Hours can be spent surveying his expressions while he tries to convince captain Virat Kohli to go for a review.

The ball is never going down the leg side, it’s not allowed to go over the stumps. There must have been an edge. There is a wicket every time, all the time. Excitement is his bosom friend, energy the most trusted ally. He runs in, bowls his heart out ball after ball, over after over, spell after spell and gets the better of the batsman more often than not. When he doesn’t, his adrenaline makes up for it. For he has that ability to transfer it deep within everyone watching things unfold. Siraj is box office.

Siraj was always like this. Even before he made the red Kookaburra in Australia or the cherry Dukes in England dance to his tunes. His battery-like energy and heart as big as the ocean had made him one of the most lovable cricketers in the Old Hyderabad city long before he was selected for first-class cricket.

Also read: 18 Sri Lanka players sign central contracts, Mathews left out

Siraj aced tennis ball tournaments. Spent the days in one ground and the evening in another, won matches, picked wickets. Jerseys changed, so did his team, more often the grounds too but what didn’t was his desire to give it all on the cricket field.

The seeds of the guile that Siraj showed at Lord’s a few days ago were sown in the Old Hyderabad city but he needed someone to nurture. He got that in Bharat Arun.

The raw Siraj was handed over to Arun, then the Hyderabad coach in 2016-17, by former cricketer P Jyothi Prasad.

It’s what Arun, the current India bowling coach, did with Siraj, is something that makes their relationship a fascinating one.

“If you give a kid a toy, he will keep playing with it right? On seeing the slope Bharat Arun obviously told him to angle it across with a scrambled seam. So, he kept on doing it with grand success,” India fielding coach R Sridhar told R Ashwin when the latter wanted to know the reason behind Siraj’s excellent use of the Lord’s slope.

Siraj got the wickets of Moeen Ali and Sam Curran off back-to-back deliveries in the second innings using the same method – the scrambled seam and allowing the slope to take the ball further away with the angle.

Lord’s was just one example. In Melbourne, in Brisbane, in Sydney and even in Nottingham - Bharat Arun was Siraj’s biggest supporter, philosopher, guide and above all, a sure shot recipe to success.

It is perhaps one of the strongest coach-cricketer relations that Indian cricket has seen in modern times.

“Siraj’s success also has a lot to do with Arun. When he was the coach for Hyderabad for a year or so, he identified Siraj. And to Siraj’s credit, he had the hunger and desire to learn. Arun imparted a lot of knowledge,” former India cricketer Laxman Sivaramakrishnan told Hindustan Times.

And it was never one-way traffic. If Arun instructed, Siraj listened and implanted without an iota of doubt. After all, Arun was the one who told him he can get any batsman out when his first tryst with international cricket – in white ball – did not go according to plan and he was also dropped for the next few series.

“Siraj has just followed him. Some people might doubt it. Be sceptical whether it is the right thing to do or not but Siraj took Arun as his guru and went about doing exactly what he wanted him to do. Arun must have then passed it on to Shastri,” Sivaramakrishnan said.

When Siraj lost his father weeks after landing in Australia in November 2020, it was an irreparable loss for the right-arm seamer. But somewhere deep down, he knew, he had Arun by his side, who may not have seen his childhood struggles but has been a witness to his rise from the by lanes of Hyderabad to the Lord’s balcony.

(Watch England vs India - 3rd Test - LIVE from 3.30 pm IST on SONY SIX (English), SONY TEN 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels from August 25, 2021)

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021