Right-arm pacer Mohammed Siraj, who on Monday picked five wickets for 73 to become only the fifth Indian bowler to pick a five-wicket haul in a Test at The Gabba, has shown remarkable level of fitness throughout the four-match rubber against Australia.
Siraj has bowled 134.1 overs, the most by an Indian bowler in the current series which saw the entire frontline attack get benched due to injuries before the fourth and final Test even began. He has ended up being India’s highest wicket-taker in the series with 13 scalps. Add to that, he has manned the outfield energetically.
He attributed this fitness level to regular work at home during lockdown.
“I need to thank Soham bhai (Soham Desai, the strength and conditioning coach at the National Cricket Academy) who designed a program for me and backed my training. Fitness is very important. I have been working on it since lockdown. I used to get regular programs from him, which I used to follow during the lockdown as well. I realise now how important fitness is, especially in Test cricket,” said Siraj in reply to a question from IANS at the end of the fourth day’s play.
The right-arm pacer, who made his Test debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the Boxing Day Test, has had a very emotional tour. He lost his father a few days after he arrived in Australia but couldn’t return home to attend his burial due to strict quarantine rules that would have taken a lot of time.
He was then subjected to alleged racial taunts by a section of the crowd in Sydney — a matter that forced Cricket Australia to launch an investigation and issue an apology.
Asked how he felt about achieving success on a tour that may have drained him emotionally, Siraj said he has no words to describe it except being grateful to get a chance to fulfill his father’s dream.
“First of all I need to thank God that I got this opportunity to play for India. It was my dad’s desire to see his son play with the entire world watching him play. Wish he were here to see this. He would have been very happy. It were his prayers that enabled me to take five wickets today. I am speechless, have no words to describe this,” said Siraj.
“I am very grateful that I got five wickets. It was a very tough situation with dad having passed away. I talked to folks at home, spoke to mom. They encouraged me, made me feel strong. I got mentally strong with their support. I felt that whatever was dad’s desire, I have to fulfill that. It got fulfilled,” he added.
Despite just two Tests under his belt prior to the Brisbane Test, Siraj was the senior-most of the India bowling attack to take field at The Gabba. India fielded two debutants, Washington Sundar and T Natarajan, while Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini had played just one Test each before.
“It is not about seniority. Whatever cricket I played for India A or at domestic level, it helped me gain a lot of confidence. I missed Jassi bhai (Jasprit Bumrah) in this game. He wasn’t there. I was being called the senior bowler. So I tried to shoulder responsibility,” he said.
The 26-year-old got the wickets of Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith through beautiful deliveries, the one to Smith being almost unplayable.
Both the deliveries got big on the batsmen as they were caught behind the wicket. Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were his other three scalps.
Siraj said that he wanted to keep it tight during Australia’s second innings.
“My job was to build pressure, not try much and put the ball in one spot. I thought that will be good for the team and me. We have to bowl in one area and the same channel for a while before surprising the batsman,” he said.
India, eventually, bundled out Australia for 294 in their second innings, thus setting themselves a target of 328. They reached 4/0 before rain stopped play and subsequently umpires were forced to call for early stumps on Day Four. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill remained unbeaten on 4 and 0, respectively.
PKL 8: Patna Pirates beat Puneri Paltan 38-26
Raider Sachin scored 10 points as three-time champions Patna Pirates defeated Puneri Paltan 38-26 in Match 17 of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 8 at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, on Tuesday. Sachin scored a Super 10 (10 points) and was ably supported by Patna’s defensive trio of Sunil (4 points), Mohammadreza Chiyaneh (3 points), and Sajin C (3 points). The lack of a quality raider despite promising performances from youngsters will be a cause of concern for the Puneri Paltan who succumbed to their second loss in three matches.
All eyes were once again on Pune’s Rahul Chaudhari but the showman, despite starting the match, was substituted for young Mohit Goyat by coach Anup Kumar in the first half. The trio of raiders including Aslam Inamdar and Pankaj Mohite caused problems for the Patna defence while at the other end Prashant Kumar Rai and Sachin were equally effective.
Patna were facing the risk of an all-out with six minutes left to half-time, but their defender Sajin C completed a Super Tackle to turn the momentum. The three-time champions got lucky later when Monu Goyat entered the lobby without contact, in a do-or-die raid only to be followed by three Pune defenders who had been deceived by his actions. The first half ended 14-14 with Pune having just two men on the mat.
Pune coach Anup Kumar clearly expected from his set of raiders and brought in Shubham Shelke for Pankaj Mohite in the second half. But Patna kept fighting back, thanks to the largely confident tackles from the likes of Mohammadreza Chiyaneh and Sajin. With 10 minutes remaining, Patna had a four-point lead and that was extended a’ Pune’s plan to play on the Do-or-Die raid backfired. Sachin scored two points in the crucial raid for Patna to inspire another ALL OUT in the 13th minute and open a 10-point lead.
Patna maintained the momentum and though Sunil and Vishal Bharadwaj picked up yellow cards in the final minutes as the match became intense the three-time champions ensured there was no late comeback by Pune and clinched an important win.
PKL 8: Bengal Warriors beat Gujarat Giants
Bengal Warriors defeated Gujarat Giants 31-28 on Day 3 of the Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 held at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, here on Friday. This was Bengal Warriors’ second win in as many matches while Gujarat Gaints have one win and one loss. The Warriors have 10 points the same as Dabang Delhi but are placed second on a lower points-difference while Gujarat have six points.
Bengal Warriors started well and established a slender lead (16-11) against Gujarat Giants at half-time. They maintained their advantage despite the valiant efforts of the Gujarat Giants, managed to register a narrow victory.
Maninder Singh was the top scorer for Bengal Warriors with eight points while Esmaeil Nabibakhsh contributed four points.
Bengal Warriors won 18 raid points as against 19 by Gujarat Giants. But it was in defence that they scored, claiming 10 points as against eight by their rivals. They bagged two all-outs as against none by the Giants.
Rakesh Narwal was the top scorer for Gujarat Giants with 12 points while Rakesh Sungroya contributed four points.
Rishabh Pant appointed as Uttarakhand’s brand ambassador
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Sunday announced that Indian wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant has been appointed as the brand ambassador of the state.
Taking to Twitter, the Chief Minister said that Pant will encourage the youngsters to take up sports.
“One of the best cricket players of India, the idol of youth and son of Uttarakhand, Rishabh Pant has been appointed as “State Brand Ambassador” by our government with the aim of encouraging the youth of the state towards sports and public health,” tweeted Dhami in Hindi, along with the video.
In the video, CM Dhami can be seen interacting with Rishabh and asking about his well-being.
The attacking batter also thanked the Chief Minister for the opportunity, saying that he will try his best to motivate people towards fitness.
“Thank you @pushkardhami sir for giving me the opportunity to be the Brand Ambassador of promoting Sports and General Health among the people of Uttarakhand. I’ll do my best to spread this message and feeling happy that you are taking these steps towards a fitter India,” tweeted Pant.
“Coming from a small town of Roorkee, I am confident that the people here have the ability to make the country proud in various fields of life,” he added.
The 24-year Pant, who was rested for the New Zealand Tests, is currently in Johannesburg, South Africa as the Indian Team is all set to face Proteas in the three-match Test series, starting December 26.
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