How MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli's advice helped Mohammed Siraj flourish
Mohammad Siraj, the Hyderabad pacer who has been inducted into the Indian squad for the two Tests against West Indies, has credited Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni for helping him improve his game and climb rungs when the going got tough.
Speaking to The Times of India after being selected, Siraj said: "It is a dream come true for me. I wanted to represent my country in Tests and knew I will be able to impress the selectors someday. I am so happy. I have done well for India A recently and had an idea about my selection in the Test team".
Son of an auto-rickshaw driver, Siraj's rags to riches story has been an inspiring one. Bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 2.6 crore during the 2017 IPL, he revealed how former skipper MS Dhoni gave him invaluable advice when he was getting accustomed to the rigours of international cricket.
"'Batsmen ke footwork ko dhyaan se dekh aur fir line aur length change kario' (Watch the batsman's footwork closely and then change the line and length accordingly)".
"His pep talk has helped me take my game to another level."
The 24-year-old, who made his debut against New Zealand in a T20I last year, admitted that he was nervous when he was first selected, but calmed down once captain Virat Kohli praised him and showed confidence in his abilities.
"When I was selected for T20Is against New Zealand last year, I had a chat with Kohli bhai. I was nervous. He said 'Tension mat le, ground pe baat karenge. Bass ready reh kal khelne ke liye' (Don't worry, we will talk on the field. Just be ready for your debut match)," he said.
"When I hit the field, he said... I have seen your game. Just go and bowl the way you have been. Don't experiment. He took away the pressure. I was delighted after dismissing New Zealand captain Kane Williamson to claim my first international wicket," he added.