India fast bowler Mohammed Siraj made his Test debut against Australia at MCG in December 2022, just days after receiving the news of his father's demise.
Siraj came to know about the terrible news after landing in Australia and decided to stay back. The four-Test series was set to begin on December 17, 2020, and the quarantine issue was a major concern owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost two years later, Siraj opened up about his emotional battle during the tour Down Under after losing his father.
"In Australia, nobody could visit other players' rooms as we spoke on video calls," Siraj said while speaking on the RCB Season 2 Podcast.
"But Sridhar sir (former India fielding coach R Sridhar) used to call often asking how are you, what have you eaten etc. It was a good feeling and my fiance was also talking to me (over phone) at that time.
"I never cried on the phone but there were occasions when I would cry in the room and then will talk to her later."
Siraj also recalled how then head coach Ravi Shastri supported and encouraged him.
"I went to training the next day after my father's demise and Ravi Shastri told me that I have my dad's blessing and I will take a five-wicket haul. When I took five wickets at Brisbane, he told me: 'Look, what did I tell you that you will take five wickets'.
"It was a lot of fun when my dad was around because he wanted to see his son's success. He took a lot of pride and joy in seeing me putting all the hard work.
"I always wanted to perform in front of my dad, and the dream did come true but how I wish I could do it more."
Siraj played a key role in India’s 2-1 Border-Gavaskar Trophy triumph in 2020-21 on Australian soil. The right-arm pacer took 13 wickets in the series at an average of 29.53, including a maiden five-wicket haul (5/73) to script the visitors’ three-wicket victory in the decider at the Gabba.
"I enjoyed bowling the most in Australia because I became a leader of the pace attack as all main bowlers were injured. Bowling with the new ball was a different feeling altogether. It was a big responsibility and I was so happy that I could fulfil it.
"I wasn't even aware that Jassi bhai (Jasprit Bumrah) was not playing the last Test and I got to know about it when I came to the ground for the warm-ups. We were informed in the team huddle that Jassi bhai was not playing.
"I was shocked to hear that as the whole bowling line-up is so young. I have played just two matches while Shardul (Thakur) and Navdeep Saini have played one match each. But there was this unity among the youngsters which helped us in that match."
(With PTI Inputs)