The season is one which Siraj would rather forget, with just seven wickets coming from nine matches at an economy rate of 9.55.
But the 27-year-old Hyderabadi has come into his own, having worked on both bowling and fitness. His game picked up pace in the UAE edition of the IPL last year and he even earned his Test cap in Australia.
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Starting out as the mainstay bowler for the three-time finalists, Siraj has shown a lot of maturity in the five matches thus far for RCB.
The turnaround in his bowling, he says, has come as a result of hard work and mentoring from people like Dale Steyn and Bharat Arun.
“During the lockdown before the last IPL, I worked hard on my fitness and bowling. The 2020 IPL was important for me because the previous two editions hadn’t gone too well. When I joined the team (in the UAE), there was Steyn with me. I worked a lot with him, especially on how to swing the new ball. My performance against KKR in the first game was good and that boosted my confidence. Apart from Steyn, I keep talking to (India bowling coach) Bharat (Arun) sir. He gives me a lot of confidence,” said Siraj during a select media interaction.
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While Siraj was effective for India in the longer format in December last year, to improve on effectiveness with the white ball, he’s drawn from his Test cricket experience.
“I worked on my line and length which is helpful in Test cricket. I bowled a lot at a single stump because it helps you get an idea about your length and line,” he pointed out.
Against Kolkata Knight Riders last week, Siraj came up with an inspiring penultimate over, which saw him concede just one run.
Asked if there were any scars of 2019 while playing against KKR this time, especially bowling to Andre Russell, Siraj said: “I went into the 2019 edition of the IPL lacking in experience and confidence. But having played at the international level and learnt from senior players, I’m more confident now. Last time (in 2019 against KKR), I went for a lot of runs. But this time, I weighed in with my experience and bowled with confidence.”
In a team of big hitters, which includes Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell, Siraj enjoys picking the batsmen’s brains, especially if RCB are defending.
“We speak a lot with each other. When Maxi (Maxwell) and AB sir return from batting, I ask them how helpful the wicket is and what’s the length we need to bowl. The communication in the team is very good and that helps in my performance on the field.”