Siraj finishes unfinished business in an emphatic manner

By Real11 - Sep 18 2023 37 Views

Siraj leads India to Glory 

It wasn’t may be required at all but rush-changed Mohammad Siraj did it anyway- valiantly chasing a first-ball four from Dhananjaya De Silva all the way to the long on boundary to provide a slice of comic relief betwixt what was quickly turning into a mortification for Sri Lanka. On each side of that boundary in the fourth over were wickets that not just yielded quite a few records for Siraj but also successfully sealed the fate of the 2023 Asia ODI Series. 

Under overcast conditions of Colombo, India’s new-ball pair wasn’t likely all discouraged at losing the toss and bowling first. The short hault of rain just before the scheduled start time implied that there was some assistance for pacers, unlike in previous fixtures, and Jasprit Bumrah had already made early strides in the opening over. Siraj then menacingly commenced his day with a maiden, deceptively beating Kusal Mendis four times in the period of those six balls. The mounting pressure got the better of the hosts as they crumbled for a lowly total of 50. 

Pathum Nissanka became Siraj’s first casualty, aerially driving a length ball- an outswinger- finding the right of backward point. Sadeera Samarawickrama was fooled by a beautiful inswinger next, a ball later, that nipped in after pitching outside off, hitting him on the front pad. The speedster then produced another full delivery to welcome Charith Asalanka and force him into playing drive. The batter gullibly chipped it straight down the throat of Ishan Kishan at cover. 

Siraj had picked three wickets in four deliveries, and the boundary from De Silva on the hat-trick ball was a much needed respite for the hosts in more than one ways. Momentary though. The 29 year old dished out another full outswinger delivery outside off, that a batter should ideally leave but instead edged behind to hand Siraj his fourth of the over. 

Sri Lanka were reduced for 12/5 inside just four overs and were hardly showing no signs of redemption, but Siraj has some unadorned business. “Last time, against Sri Lanka in Thiruvananthapuram, I had taken the first four wickets [three], but couldn't get the fifth," 

Siraj said in a talk with an official broadcaster in the halfway break. "Then I realised that you only get what's written in your destiny, and nothing more, however hard you try. So, my plan was to keep it simple and execute my line and length, and I kept getting the wickets today."

Like he said, Siraj backed his plan in a cracking fashion to set up the Sri Lankan captain next. After bowling three full and wide deliveries, he undone Dasun Shanaka with a one that was pitching in line of his middle stump. Shanaka was deceived by the late movement and his off stump was wrecked. Siraj claimed his fifer in only 16 balls- his maiden and the joint fastest in ODI cricket. He went on to record a career best haul of 6/21 ultimately, demolishing sixth over a sumptuous inswinger. 

When I play white-ball cricket my only attempt is that I would try to swing the new ball at the start. But here, there wasn't a lot of swing on offer in the initial matches. Today it swung, so I tried to make the batters play as much as possible. It's a nice feeling when it catches the edge. I have not picked up a lot of wickets with my outswing - today I got a lot of wickets with my outswing, so that felt good.

"Today I was getting so much swing that I tried to make the batters drive, bring them forward and get their wickets. That was my plan. I didn't chase after wickets, but the conditions did a lot of work for me. If you keep hitting the wickets with one line, you will keep getting wickets."

Siraj could have picked a seventh too if not for a difficult missed chance behind the wicket, but it all still felt surreal in pace friendly conditions. Sri Lanka were bundled out for 50 in front of a dazed home crowd, a target that was easily chased down by the Indian overs in only six overs. 

India skipper Rohit Sharma did not shy away from praising the fast bowler who shattered numerous records in turning around a very substandard bowling performance against Nepal earlier in the tournament. “I never thought the ball was going to be doing that much [but], again, it comes back to the skillset of the individuals. Siraj has to be given a lot of credit. That's very rare, you don't see many guys who can move it in the air and off the pitch. He's coming of age”, Rohit said at the post match presentation ceremony. 

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