Debutant pacer Mohammed Siraj on Saturday (26 December 2020) termed receiving the India Test cap as his life's "biggest achievement" and said he made it count by focussing on bowling dot balls to build pressure on the Australian batsmen.
Siraj, who lost his father last month when he was already with the Indian team in Australia, claimed two for 40 on the opening day of the second Test after receiving the Test cap from offspinner R Ashwin.
"When I got the cap, I felt it was the biggest achievement of my life. I gained a lot of confidence speaking with Ajju bhai (Ajinkya Rahane) and Jassi bhai (Jasprit Bumrah)," Siraj, who became the 298th player to play Test cricket for India, told bcci.tv.
Talking about the role played by Rahane in his success, Siraj said: "... he (Rahane) told me to do whatever I have been doing for India A and domestic cricket. He asked me not to think too much that I was playing for India and bowl my normal stuff.
"I enjoyed a lot bowling with Rahane as the captain. Because he gave me the freedom to bowl the way I wanted and set my own field. He was also motivating me if one or two balls went bad. So, I was getting the confidence with him," he said
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad said he was itching to get his hands on the ball before stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane introduced him into the attack after the lunch break of the opening day.
"My hands were itching to bowl out there, and after lunch when Ajju bhai told me to bowl, I began warming up. Then he said to me 'you'll only bowl for two overs'," he said.
"Jadeja was to be brought on and rightly so because there was moisture on the wicket and it was helpful for the spinners.
"After lunch when I came in, it had turned into a batting wicket and my plan was to bowl as many dot balls as possible and build pressure."
The 26-year Siraj dismissed Marnus Labuschagne for his maiden Test wicket and then trapped Cameron Green in front of wicket with an inswinger after testing the batsman with plenty of outswingers.
Asked about the inswing, Siraj said: "That is natural. I was trying to come close to the wickets as well as go wide of it. In swing comes naturally to me. To Cameron Green, my away swingers were landing well too.
"After bowling a few inswingers and I bowled two complete overs of outswing. Then I bowled one ball which was the inswinger which got him. It felt nice to set him up and get his wicket."
India were 36 for one at stumps after dismissing Australia for 195 on day one at the MCG.