Crowd abuse made Siraj ‘mentally strong’

Mohammed Siraj


HYDERABAD AFP: India bowler Mohammed Siraj has given his first public account of the crowd abuse he suffered during the Australia Test series, saying it made him “mentally strong”.

Siraj said India, who stunned Australia to win the series 2-1, declined an offer from the umpires to walk off the field as players were abused in the third Test in Sydney.

According to Indian media, shouts of “monkey” and other insults rang out when Siraj and fellow fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah were fielding near the boundary.

“The crowd in Australia began to abuse me but it made me mentally strong. I did not let it affect my game and that was important,” said Siraj.

“I told my captain Ajju bhai (Ajinkya Rahane) about the abuse and he spoke to the umpires who said you can leave the field. But Rahane said: ‘We will play on.’”

Siraj, still grieving his father, who died just before the series, took 13 wickets including five in Australia’s second innings at the Gabba, just his third Test. He was speaking after receiving a hero’s welcome in his home city of Hyderabad on Thursday, where he headed straight for his father’s grave.

Siraj’s father, an auto rickshaw driver, died as India were in quarantine in Australia, but the player decided to stay with the team.

“First of all it was very difficult for me. Mentally I was upset and depressed,” he said. “I had a chat with them back home and they said that I should complete Dad’s dream (of playing for India).”

“I will not let this performance go to my head. I cannot relax as there is the England series and the World Test Championship coming up.”

India, now the world’s top Test nation, are virtually assured of a place in the world Test final at Lord’s in June.

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