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Important to stick to a plan and keep it simple: Siraj

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Last updated on 04 Jan 2024 | 05:33 AM
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Important to stick to a plan and keep it simple: Siraj

Mohammed Siraj also warned the bowlers, stating that it is easy to become greedy on pitches which are misbehaving

Mohammed Siraj arrived in South Africa as one of the best pacers in the red-ball format but then the first Test pegged back the 29-year-old’s confidence. In the first Test at the SuperSport Park, the right-arm pacer finished with bowling figures of 2/91 on a pitch that aided the pacers. 

However, the pacer made a sharp return in the second Test here on Wednesday (January 3), where he scalped six wickets on the opening day’s play to peg back the hosts to a paltry total of just 55. In that spell, where he bowled nine overs on the trot, Siraj finished with figures of 6/15. Siraj looked back at his spell and stated that he only aimed to keep it simple. 

"On such pitches when there is so much swing and the pitch is misbehaving, bowlers tend to be greedy and try too many things," Siraj said in the post-match press conference. 

"I think it's important to stick to a plan and hit a certain area. If you try too much, you will put yourself and the team under pressure. On this pitch. it's crucial to have bowling partnerships as sometimes, runs can be leaked while trying to get wickets,” he added. 

Siraj’s sustained pressure from one end eventually helped India wrap up the South African innings in just 24 overs, and the pacer added that he only focused on his strength, learning from his mistakes. 

"My mindset was to give a strong performance for the team and correct the shortcomings from the last Test. I realised what mistakes I had made and got it right today, and got the success. My strength is to land the ball in the right areas for a long period of time but I wasn't able to do that in the last game. Today, I focused on my strengths and got the rewards. So I'm really happy."

Interestingly, the Indian pacers, including Siraj, had a specific set of plans for left-handers and right-handers on the day. While the plan was to bowl leg-side to the two left-handed openers, it was evidently clear that they were targetting the outside off-stump channel for the right-handers that followed. 

"The discussion was to correct our mistakes as a bowling unit from last game. We focused on having more bowling partnerships and also planned on bowling more maidens. We didn't bowl many maidens in the last Test and today we were able to build pressure as we bowled more maidens. We built pressure and hence got success," he said.

"After playing so many years of domestic cricket, you get an idea of what areas to hit consistently on such pitches. When you go overseas and with so much swing available, it's about consistently hitting a probing spot more often than not."

A lot of discussion surrounded the pitch after the conclusion of day one, where 23 wickets fell. It was a day when the pacers cashed in to cause havoc. Siraj, however, left all the pitch talks to the match referee and insisted that his idea was to bowl the right areas and, in return, exploit the surface that had plenty of offer for the pacers. 

"I can only say that I'd want to just focus on my game and my team. These things are for the match referee to decide. For me, it's about bowling in the right areas and exploiting the surface. I don't think anyone could have expected that and we obviously didn't. But such things happen in cricket. With the good, the bad also come. They were bowled out for 55, we had a good start and a good partnership, so a collapse was bound to come."

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