‘He can replace Bumrah, can be next Shami’: India's World Cup-winning pacer's smashing verdict on Siraj
The man behind RCB's improved powerplay numbers in IPL 2023 has been Mohammed Siraj, but it has been a journey back for the India star as well.
In an otherwise hot and cold season for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, one of the biggest positive for Faf du Plessis' men has been their powerplay bowling. From the 2022 season, where they had conceded 8.46 runs an over and picked a wicket every 30 balls, both the worst figures in that edition, RCB have scripted a turnaround in 2023, becoming the fiercest bowling side with the new ball. In nine matches so far, they have picked 22 wickets at an economy of just 7.3 and a strike rate of 14.7, all of which are the best figures this season. And the man behind RCB's improved powerplay numbers has been Mohammed Siraj, but it has been a journey back for the India star as well.
When Siraj was retained ahead of the mega auction for the 2022 season, a noteworthy act hailed by many, the right-arm fast bowler was entrusted with the new-ball responsibility. But overburdened with the immense faith, Siraj stuttered in the powerplay, with RCB even dropping him for a game. Among the 14 bowlers last season, who delivered at least 20 overs with the new ball, Siraj's economy rate of 10.23 was the worst, while his strike rate of 37.20 was only better than Bhuvneshwar Kumar's (56).
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But Siraj put all those long behind, probably into oblivion as he scripted a magnificent turnaround in white-ball cricket. In the 20 ODI matches he played for India since June 2022, he picked 38 wickets at just 19. 24 of those wickets came with the new ball at an economy rate of just 4.38. And Siraj's success has been down to the use of scrambled seam, late movements and attacking the stumps. The sensational rise eventually culminated in the 29-year-old claiming the No.1 spot on the ICC Men's ODI Player Rankings for bowlers in January this year. And preceding that, Siraj was also brought back to the T20I side where he picked six wickets in the New Zealand series in November for just five runs an over in two games.
The sublime form stretched to IPL 2023, where he has emerged as a leading new-ball bowler. Of the 15 wickets he has picked this season in nine games, 8 came in the powerplay, where he is the only bowler to concede less than a run-a-ball among players who have delivered at least 60 balls in that bowling phase.
Former India fast bowler RP Singh, IPL Expert, JioCinema explained That Siraj has been reaping the rewards of working majorly on his fitness and making technical changes to his bowling.
“I have been following Siraj for a long time now. When he joined the Indian team, his graph was really high and then slowly it started falling. But it is good to see that he has worked on a lot of things this time, fitness being a major point. Now if you look at the technical bit, he has worked a lot on his wrist position and follow through for which he is getting the ball top bounce better and is also bowling stump-to-stump,” he told Hindustan Times.
When further pressed on whether an improved Siraj gives Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid the option to look beyond an injury-prone Jasprit Bumrah, the 2007 T20 World Cup-winning pacer made a smashing statement.
“Of course, he can be a replacement for Bumrah. In fact, I feel, if his graph continues to increase he can be the next Mohammed Shami,” he said.
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