Hours of net sessions perfecting the art of getting the ball to dart in the air and then deviate away after pitching paid dividends while bamboozling Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka, India’s man of the moment Mohammed Siraj, said after his magical spell of 6/21 in the Asia Cup final.
Siraj dismissed Pathum Nissanka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka and Dhananjaya De Silva in his second over before returning to clean up Lankan skipper Dasun Shanka with a peach of a delivery.
“I had practised a lot on generating out-swing deliveries from wide of the crease in West Indies. My outswingers were going well. So I tried from the wide of the crease to push for inswing (which will move away after pitching),” Siraj told bcci.tv.
“So what I planned, what I had in mind, it turned out to be absolutely perfect and it was my best wicket of the game,” Siraj said in an interaction with Indian teammate Kuldeep Yadav.
With less than a month to go for the World Cup, Siraj said his spell in the Asia Cup Final would give him a lot of confidence heading into the mega event.
Siraj spell shot out the Lankans for a mere 50 in 15.2 overs, aided by fellow pacers Hardik Pandya (3 for 3) and Jasprit Bumrah (1 for 23), while the Indians got the job done with 10 wickets in hand in 6.1 overs.
“It’s a great achievement for me, especially since it’s the final. It will help me gain a lot of confidence before the (ODI) World Cup,” he said.
“To be honest, it was a magical spell, as I had never dreamt about it. I had to struggle hard to gain the fifth wicket in the last ODI against Lanka in Trivandrum, which never came. But, it all worked out today (Sunday).
“In my first spell, the moment I saw I was able to swing the ball, I realised that I didn’t need to hit the wicket. I just intended on bowling at a particular spot and make the ball talk.”
While Siraj grabbed the Man of the Match award on Sunday, left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep took home the Man of the Tournament prize.
Kuldeep finished the event as India’s second-highest wicket-taker, with nine scalps in four innings at an average of 11.44 and an economy of 3.61. His best figures were 5 for 25 against Pakistan.
“I don’t think a lot; I just read the wicket. It’s very important for me to get the length right, and keep bowling at the good length,” he said.
“I also read the batter, as to what shot is he trying to play. I have been efficiently using my wrong one and flipper, and I’m gaining a lot of confidence from it.
“I have worked a lot (on the wrong’un) in the last one and a half years. The rhythm is something that breaks off quite often and takes time to get it back.” Kuldeep’s form had gone on a downward spiral in 2019, and it has taken him nearly four years to get his rhythm back.
“I’m lucky to have gained that rhythm back. It did take some time and wasn’t easy, but now, it’s going smooth and aggressive, along with the pace; enjoying it a lot.” Siraj’s awe-inspiring spell did not allow Kuldeep to bowl in the final. However, the latter was pleased to have bowled efficiently in the three matches where he bowled.
“I guess the way you (Siraj) bowled today, I’m glad that I did not have to bowl today. You deserve the moment. Also, if a team gets bowled out for 50, you always want the match to finish quickly.
“It doesn’t matter whether I bowled or not. I did bowl in two (three) matches, where I bowled well, and I am satisfied with it.”