India paceman Mohammed Siraj was urged by his captain Virat Kohli and his mother to stay in Australia and push for selection in the Test team rather than head home to grieve with his family following the death of his father last month.
On Monday, at a cloudy Gabba, Siraj was rewarded for his tough decision as he grabbed his maiden fifer.
Siraj snared five wickets as Australia was dismissed for 294 late on day four.
Siraj put down two catches before picking up the key wicket of Steve Smith for 55 in the middle session. He also chimed in with two wickets in an over to remove Marnus Labuschagne, who scored 25 from 22 balls, and Matthew Wade (0) in the same over.
“I’m grateful I got this opportunity to play for India and managed a five-for. I wish my father was around to see it,” an emotional Siraj told during a video conference after day’s play.
“It was tough after he passed away. I spoke to my family and gained strength after talking to my mother. My focus was to fulfil my father’s dream of me playing a test match for India,” he added.
Siraj has done a lot more than that and will finish the series as India’s most successful bowler with 13 wickets from three tests. As he led the side off the field, Siraj received a standing ovation from his teammates and was hugged by India’s pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, who missed the match with an abdomen injury.
Tributes also flowed from former players for a performance that helped to keep the series level at 1-1.
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 18, 2021
The boy has become a man on this tour. Siraj, Leader of the attack in his first Test series and he has led from.the front. The way newcomers have performed for India on this tour will be etched in memories for a long long time. Will be fitting if they retain the trophy. pic.twitter.com/8bRvMI1iwR
Having to toil in first class cricket is so important. It shows in both, #siraj and #Shardulthakur performance. You could bowl spells after spells in test matches if you have done that regularly in domestic cricket. Well done to both of them!
— Irfan Pathan (@IrfanPathan) January 18, 2021
Mohammed Siraj has been so impressive on this Australian tour . Bowled with a Lot of heart . Congratulations on your First Test 5 wicket haul 🖐 My best wishes for a fantastic future ahead !
— Mithali Raj (@M_Raj03) January 18, 2021
Australia 1st innings: 369 all out
India 1st innings: 336 all out in 111.4 overs.
Australia 2nd innings: 294 allout in 75.5 overs (Steve Smith 55; Mohammed Siraj 5/73, Shardul Thakur 4/61).
India 2nd innings: 4/0 in 1.5 overs (Rohit Sharma 4, Mitchell Starc 4/0).
(With Reuters inputs)