Mohammed Siraj has been a driving force in the longer formats of the game, leaving the opposition in utter disarray, thanks to a venomous mix of brutal pace and his signature banana swing that has proven to be the undoing of countless of his nemesis. Last night was a blazing ode to the bedazzling brilliance that he usually brings to the mix in ODIs as he claimed 4 crucial wickets to leave Sri Lanka completely derailed and his early blows were significant enough to destabilize the Lankan ship.
After a sublime 2022 in ODIs, he has started his 2023 on a positive note with 9 wickets against Sri Lanka in the recently concluded series with his best coming in the series finale that was fairly inconsequential to the fate of the series.
His first pick of the night was that of Avishka Fernando as he forced an edge from the latter with Shubman Gill completing a safe take at a slightly squarer slip position. The next man to depart was Kusal Mendis as he was surprised by a late wobble from Siraj with KL Rahul completing an effortless take.
If the two opening wickets was the overture of a maddening hustle, the following two wickets from Siraj was a pure act of class. A defiant Nuwanidu Fernando battled hard against the ingressions of the Indian bowling unit but in a similar delivery that initially seemed to be flying away from him, took a downward slope and failing to recognize the delivery, he sliced wildly at it. By the time he could connect the ball, it took a robust inside edge and went onto rattle his own stumps.
The next victim to Siraj’s screaming spell was his RCB teammate, Wanindu Hasaranga as he cannoned through the defences of the leggie, clipping the top of the off-stump, highlighting his majesty as Sri Lanka’s tormentor-in-chief in the powerplay. If his bowling was a pure act of class, his incision enhanced its elegance.
As the commentators would put it, Chamika Karunaratne was overawed by his defensive stroke on the front foot and posed for a significant while allowing Siraj to pick up the ball and execute a laser sharp throw at the big man’s timbre. On a night where Virat Kohli had even bigger numbers to walk away with the Player of the Match award, Siraj’s special performance deserved plaudits of the highest order. In a post-match interview, Mohammed Siraj said, “I was trying hard to pick up a five-for but you get only what is written in your destiny, however hard you try. My rhythm has been good for a long time. The outswinger has been working well and I try to slip in the wobble-seam delivery in. The captain tried hard that I should get a five-for.”