While India spinners once again took the honours picking up eight wickets, it was Mohammed Siraj’s energy, consistency and nagging line that helped the hosts grab two most important wickets – no. 3 Jonny Bairstow and no. 4 Joe Root – to hasten the end of the England innings.
Siraj, who bowled short spells, kept hitting consistent line and length and got the two batsmen out leg-before to rattle the visitors. On top of that, he got into a chat with Ben Stokes to ruffle feathers further.
“The idea was to build pressure. Both Virat (Kohli) and Ishant (Sharma) said that I should bowl at one spot and not try too much (variations). If you build pressure, wickets follow,” said the right-arm pace bowler who is playing only his fifth Test.
Former India pace bowler Atul Wassan says Siraj is a proper Test match bowler and on Indian wickets he will do well just like Umesh Yadav who is on the bench for this game.
“He is a proper Test match bowler. He has got the ability to move the ball. On Indian pitches, you have got a lot of chance to get lbw victims since the ball keeps low. He has an action which helps move the ball in the air. He is improving and has got a good mental make-up for a fast bowler,” Wassan told IANS.
Siraj showed a lot of energy and aggression. The 26-year-old got into a chat with England batsman Stokes before Virat Kohli too got involved. The umpire had to intervene.
The thing with Siraj was that he kept coming at the English, through his bowling, run-up or with words.
“We play in India, we know what to do. We don’t try too much and bowl at one place. When we play Ranji Trophy, our plan is to bowl only at one place and the wickets would come on their own. The plan is to patiently bowl at one spot,” added Siraj while speaking to the media.
Siraj had both Root and Bairstow with deliveries that came into the batsmen.
“I thought I would set him (Root) up, by continuously bowling away-going deliveries. After that, in a fresh over’s first ball I thought I will bowl in and up and it came out the way I had thought. I was successful. Was very happy,” Siraj explained about the England skipper’s dismissal.
With Bairstow, there was preparation done beforehand.
“He had not faced me much. I had seen his videos, getting out to deliveries coming in. My plan was to bowl consistently at an area and make the ball to come in. It happened.”
Siraj made his debut in Australia and since then he has almost become India’s third choice pacer. Years of grind in first-class cricket – in domestic cricket and for India A — has also helped him get the temperament to keep trying.