On Monday, right-arm pacer Mohammed Siraj recorded his maiden fifer in Test cricket. He achieved this feat on the fourth day of the ongoing fourth and final Test match between India and Australia at the Gabba.
Siraj has bowled 134.1 overs, the most by an Indian bowler in the current series which saw the entire frontline attack get benched due to injuries before the fourth Test even began. He has ended up being India's highest wicket-taker in the series with 13 scalps. Add to that, he has manned the outfield energetically.
Applauding his heroics, former India opener Virender Sehwag said that Siraj has really grown as a cricketer in the ongoing Test series against Australia.
"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," tweeted Sehwag.
Even the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was all praises for the pacer as it said that it could not be more proud of the achievement.
"Before the Border-Gavaskar Test series, Siraj lost his father. He then made a promise to himself. Today, he fulfilled it. Siraj, we are all very proud of you," BCCI tweeted.
The right-arm pacer, who made his Test debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the Boxing Day Test, has had a very emotional tour. He lost his father a few days after he arrived in Australia but couldn't return home to attend his burial due to strict quarantine rules that would have taken a lot of time.
He was then subjected to alleged racial taunts by a section of the crowd in Sydney -- a matter that forced Cricket Australia to launch an investigation and issue an apology.
Asked how he felt about achieving success on a tour that may have drained him emotionally, Siraj said he has no words to describe it except being grateful to get a chance to fulfill his father's dream.
"First of all I need to thank God that I got this opportunity to play for India. It was my dad's desire to see his son play with the entire world watching him play. Wish he were here to see this. He would have been very happy. It were his prayers that enabled me to take five wickets today. I am speechless, have no words to describe this," said Siraj.
"I am very grateful that I got five wickets. It was a very tough situation with dad having passed away. I talked to folks at home, spoke to mom. They encouraged me, made me feel strong. I got mentally strong with their support. I felt that whatever was dad's desire, I have to fulfill that. It got fulfilled," he added.
Despite just two Tests under his belt prior to the Brisbane Test, Siraj was the senior-most of the India bowling attack to take field at The Gabba. India fielded two debutants, Washington Sundar and T Natarajan, while Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini had played just one Test each before.
India, eventually, bundled out Australia for 294 in their second innings, thus setting themselves a target of 328. They reached 4/0 before rain stopped play and subsequently umpires were forced to call for early stumps on Day Four. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill remained unbeaten on 4 and 0, respectively.
(with IANS inputs)