In India’s 3-0 series triumph over Sri Lanka, Mohammed Siraj showed he’s ready to take up the responsibility of providing early breakthroughs in ODIs, an aspect where the Rohit Sharma-led side were found wanting a couple of months ago.
In the first ODI at Guwahati, he picked up two wickets with the new ball, while taking one scalp at Kolkata. But it was in the third ODI at Thiruvananthapuram, where his four wickets with the new ball played a pivotal role in giving India a record 317-run victory.
In the series, Siraj had nine wickets, the most by a bowler, at an economy of 4.05. In the last edition of the IPL, Siraj had his worst season, being utterly predictable and being taken for runs by opposition batters. With the inswing disappearing and outswing only in his hand, Siraj stumbled on the wobble-seam delivery, which is now his latest tool of success.
“The biggest advantage with the wobble seam is neither me nor the batter can guess how much the ball will nip back. Sometimes it will come back in; at other times, it will go straight. Whatever success I got, I got it through a wobble seam. It’s very effective and has proved to be successful for me and I trust it,” he said in the post-match press conference.
At Thiruvananthapuram, Siraj took out Kusal Mendis with a wobble-seam ball which held its line and forced the batter to nick behind to the keeper. He also credited Dale Steyn for helping him get the wobble-seam delivery.
“I used to get natural inswing but I lost it. So I developed outswing and worked on the wobble seam delivery. It took a lot of time to be effective and for me to get confident about it. I practiced a lot in the nets and during the IPL, I got the confidence that I can bowl it. I also spoke to Dale Steyn during the IPL when I wasn’t getting good outswing, so wobble seam helped me then too.
“When I didn’t have a good IPL, I thought that I should also work on my white-ball skills. So I did that and when I got through a couple of good matches, I got the confidence. Now I have stopped thinking about performance, which I did previously and that has helped me. My focus is on executing every ball. Whether I get wickets or not is secondary; my lines and lengths should be consistent, which brings me satisfaction.”
Asked on how he executes the wobble-seam, Siraj explained, “The way I hold the ball, it naturally outswings. When I bowl scrambled seam, I tilt it a bit towards fine leg and really hit the deck. I don’t bowl a loopy delivery when I bowl the wobble ball. I find it very helpful when I hit the deck hard.”
Next up for Siraj is ODIs against New Zealand, starting from Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, a place he calls home and will play his first match for India come Wednesday. With friends, coaches and family in attendance, Siraj wants to keep doing the good work with the new ball and wobble-seam, of course.
“During this series, my plan was to swing the new ball and pick up early wickets of the opposition. It didn’t matter if I got hit for two-three fours, because if I can pick up a couple of wickets, it will push the opposition on the back foot.”