Mohammed Siraj: Did not expect to be picked for SA tour

Jun 30, 2017, 11:55 IST | Subodh Mayure

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Siraj (left) celebrates a wicket with teammate Naman Ojha during an IPL-10 match in Hyderabad this year. Pic/AFPSunrisers Hyderabad’s Siraj (left) celebrates a wicket with teammate Naman Ojha during an IPL-10 match in Hyderabad this year. Pic/AFP

Hyderabad pacer Mohammed Siraj was surprised to know about his selection in the India 'A' team for the upcoming South Africa tour. Senior team players Karun Nair and Manish Pandey were yesterday named skippers of India A's unofficial Test and one-day teams respectively. India 'A' will play a one-day tri-series involving Australia 'A' and South Africa 'A' followed by two four-day matches against the hosts. The tour starts with a one-dayer of the triangular series in Groenkloof on July 26 between India and Australia.

'My first overseas tour'
"The call surprised me. I did not expect to be picked for this tour because I thought the selectors would not prefer a young bowler, though I wanted to be selected in this team. I am very excited as this will be my first overseas tour. I'm very happy," Siraj told mid-day yesterday.

Siraj (23), who had a decent domestic outing, was picked by IPL side Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 2.6 crore last season. He did full justice to his price tag, claiming 10 wickets in six matches. During the SA tour, Siraj is keen to learn as much as he can from India 'A' coach Rahul Dravid.

"I am working on my fitness by doing strengthening exercises. I am eager to perform well on South African wickets. During the IPL, Dravid sir encouraged me by complimenting my bowling and asked me to carry on the momentum. I'm looking forward to taking his advice this time as well on what could be the possible length I should bowl in South Africa," said Siraj.

Sach kind words
Siraj has received many compliments for his performances so far, but the one that he cherishes most is India icon Sachin Tendulkar's kind words. "After the IPL-10 final, I was waiting for my turn to receive the trophy on behalf of my teammates. To my surprise, Sachin sir called me and praised my bowling. That was the best moment for me.

"I was speechless. You don't know what to say when such a great player is talking to you. He told me that I was doing well and asked me to just focus on my line, length and fitness. He also said: 'Aap Bharat ka naam roshan kar sakte ho'. And to represent the country is my ultimate dream," said Siraj.

India 'A' squad for South Africa tour
Priyank Panchal, Abhinav Mukund, Shreyas Iyer, Ankit Bawne, Karun Nair (captain), Sudip Chatterjee, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Hanuma Vihari, Jayant Yadav, Shahbaz Nadeem, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Aniket Choudhary and Ankit Rajpoot

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