'Ups and downs are part of everyone's life' - Mohammed Siraj is backing his white-ball skills after success in Zimbabwe

Mohammed Siraj is highly pleased with his recent exploits in limited-overs cricket, and opened up on his approach to bowling with the white ball.
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“I just kept the belief that I can do it no matter if it is a white ball or red ball.”

Known for his expertise and brilliance in Test cricket, having played his part in some of India’s famous wins over the last two years, Mohammed Siraj is confident of extending that brilliance in limited overs internationals.

The confidence stems from his recent run of impressive returns - he dismissed Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root for ducks in the lone ODI he played in England - the decider in Manchester. He then returned 2/56 and 0/46 in the first two high-scoring ODIs against the West Indies, and 2/14 (three overs) in the third.

On the ongoing Zimbabwe tour, Siraj has returned 1/36 and 1/16 in the first two ODIs, showcasing exemplary skills and control with the new ball.

He delivered two maidens from the eight overs he bowled, and snared the wicket of opener Takudzwanashe Kaitano in India’s five-wicket win in the second ODI on Saturday, August 20. 

The 28-year-old opened up on his approach in white-ball cricket.

"In the West Indies and England also I bowled well, my rhythm was good in the first match as well, so my plan was to hit an area consistently without worrying whether I will get wickets or not," Siraj said while addressing the media on Saturday.

"I just kept belief in myself, because ups and downs are part of everyone's life, so I just kept the belief that I can do it no matter if it is a white ball or red ball.

"So I just wanted to keep hitting the right areas and bowl dot balls to build up pressure on the opposition. Starting with the new ball, I went for wickets a few times but as you know white ball doesn't swing much, so I was planning to consistently hit one area and bowl maiden overs."

India were reduced to 97/4 in their 162-run chase, but Sanju Samson (43* off 39) and Deepak Hooda (25), ensured that the task was completed with 24.4 overs remaining. Siraj stated that the team was confident, despite some early setbacks.

"Because the total was 160 or something. We were 100 for 4 but there was no panic in the dressing room because we didn’t need too many runs after Ishan Kishan's wicket,” he said.

VVS Laxman, the current head of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) is currently serving as India's coach for the ongoing tour in absence of regular head coach Rahul Dravid. Siraj, who has worked with Laxman in the past, spoke of his role in his progress.

"Laxman sir was part of Sunrisers Hyderabad (in IPL) when I was selected for the first time,” Siraj said, “He understands my skills and gives me a lot of confidence and it feels good when such a coach is around."