Mohammed Siraj: A journey worth a Bollywood biopic

From a whipping boy in his IPL team in the early years to a watershed bowling performance in 2023 Asia Cup final, Virat Kohli’s miyan has done it all

Mohammed Siraj (Photo: Twitter/@MuslimSpaces)
Mohammed Siraj (Photo: Twitter/@MuslimSpaces)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Mohammed Siraj, Indian cricket’s man of the moment, may just be peaking in his international career – but already has a life tailormade for the Bollywood biopic.  

For starters, people love a rags-to-riches story and it’s difficult to better Siraj in his journey from being an autorickshaw driver’s son winning a one-crore IPL contract to moving into a swanky villa at Film Nagar at Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad. Riding on a strong season for the IPL, he earns a call-up to the Indian Test squad to Australia in the 2020-21 series where he hears the news of his father’s death – but decides to stay on at the call of duty. 

Here’s what Siraj told during a podcast for his team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) ahead of the IPL 2023 on how he coped with the loss: ‘’I went to training the next day after my father’s demise and Ravi Shastri (then head coach) told me that I have my dad’s blessing and I will take five-wicket haul. When I took five wickets at Brisbane, he told me: Look, what did I tell you that you will take five wickets.’’ 

The last three years since that watershed series Down Under saw him grow in leaps and bounds from being once a weak link in RCB’s new ball attack to India’s go-to quick across all formats – but September 17, 2023 was different. In the end, Siraj’s figures would say 7-1-21-6, making him the second Indian after Anil Kumble to capture six wickets in a major ODI tournament final but in terms of the sheer drama at the R. Premadasa Stadium – it conveys nothing. If this is not an ideal biopic material, what is?               

When Siraj completed his first spell of five overs, he had picked up six wickets for seven runs  – making it one of the most devastating spells in the history of the ODI cricket. Yes, one was present as a newcomer in the profession when Kumble ripped through a strong Caribbean batting line-up with a haul of six for 12 to rock their chase in the ’93 Hero Cup final at the Eden – on a sticky surface with the evening smog making batting a tall order against his accuracy.  

Siraj’s demolition act on Sunday was a completely different beast though – so much so that the paying spectators must even have felt cheated for getting an action 21.3 overs altogether in a 100-overs game. But then in modern white ball cricket, with the dice loaded so much in favour of the batters, you do not expect Siraj’s Houdini Act every day.  

A distinctive feature about Siraj’s craft is that he had been always a rhythm bowler – even more dangerous with his tails up. Remember his spell of 4-2-8-3 against the top order of the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL 2020 in Abu Dhabi? If that was an unplayable spell of lively pace and hitting the right areas to get the swing both ways, it was a much refined version of that performance against an international side – enriched by more years in international cricket – which earned him such rich dividends.  

From Ravi Shastri, Bharat Arun to the current dispensation under Rahul Dravid and Paras Mhambrey, everyone must have played their part in the evolution of Siraj, the performer. However, if there is one person who had backed his raw talent, earnest nature and sometimes overt aggression through thick and thin, it was Virat Kohli – both as the erstwhile India and RCB captain. 

Kohli will be a proud man for his miyan today. 


6/4: Roger Binny vs Bangladesh 

6/12: Anil Kumble vs West Indies 

6/19: Jasprit Bumrah vs England 

6/21: Mohammed Siraj vs Sri Lanka 

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Published: 18 Sep 2023, 8:30 AM