Ind vs Eng 4th Test: ‘Keep the pressure on,’ Siraj shines with pace and bounce on a turning track

Ind vs Eng 4th Test: ‘Keep the pressure on', Siraj shines with pace and bounce on a turning track

Ind vs Eng 4th Test: ‘Keep the pressure on,’ Siraj shines with pace and bounce on a turning track- Day 1 of the 4th Test between India and England had a similar storyline where England struggled against spinners at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad. While the Indian spinners stole the show again, scalping eight wickets out of a possible 10, young pacer Mohammed Siraj’s contribution could not be overlooked as the Hyderabad lad returned with two crucial wickets.

India dismissed England for 205 in the first innings with Axar Patel bagging four wickets for 68 runs and Ravichandran Ashwin returning with a 3/47 figure. At stumps, India scored 24/1.

Ind vs Eng 4th Test: ‘Keep the pressure on,’ Siraj shines with pace and bounce on a turning track

Siraj, bowling only 14 overs on a surface that assisted spinners, had a specific role to play. With spinners cleaning up England batsmen one by one, Siraj and Ishant Sharma were rotated from the other end to keep the pressure on. While Sharma did not get a wicket, Siraj scalped the important wicket of in-form England skipper Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow.

While his 2/45 may not seem a great stat for a bowler, it was the execution that mattered. With Axar and Ashwin taking full advantage of the turning track, Siraj used the pitch’s extra bounce to put the pressure on the touring batsmen from the other end. Without overdoing things, Siraj maintained his line and length and kept bowling at the same spot and was eventually rewarded with Root’s wicket, whose dismissal was the perfect example of planning and execution.

Root, new to the crease, was unsettled. Siraj kept bowling him wide deliveries and set him up. Suddenly, he changed his line and bowled an in-swinger that Root was clearly not ready for. His curler hit Root’s back-foot and was trapped leg before for 5.

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“There were chances of reverse swing. But we did not get that. So, the plan was to bowl with maximum effort and if we got wickets, it was fine, otherwise, it was okay too. The plan for Root was simple. I was giving him wider balls to set him up. Then, I suddenly cut in and that gave him (Root) no time,” Siraj said.

Before that, Siraj executed another plan for Bairstow well. The wicketkeeper-batsman has had a torrid run against run in-swingers of late. Siraj watched his video clips and planned accordingly. His 146-kmph delivery skidded off the track quickly and struck Bairstow’s back foot, similar to Root, giving the batsman no time. Despite a review, Bairstow was given leg before.

Ind vs Eng 4th Test: ‘Keep the pressure on,’ Siraj shines with pace and bounce on a turning track

“We planned to bowl patiently and keep bowling at the same spot. Virat bhai told me that we have only two fast bowlers so we will keep rotating, and we will be well-rested. When I started bowling from the Reliance end, there was a little extra bounce and good movement from that end after I switched,” Siraj said.

The extra bounce that Siraj extracted from the track even unsettled Ben Stokes. The flamboyant all-rounder was hit on the chest by a Siraj bouncer that led to an altercation between the two. Later, Siraj revealed that Stokes was swearing at him and he gave it back. Eventually, umpire Nitin Menon and Kohli intervened which settled the issue on the pitch.