Chances of Siraj playing against England are bright; he is keeping himself fit for the call

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Abhijit Sen Gupta

Fast bowler Mohammed Siraj is not resting on his laurels in the UK. He is hard at work by keeping himself fit, doing gym workouts and also taking a little time off for doing advertisements. The cricketer from Hyderabad has created posts on Instagram showing his day to day activities and in another post he has wished good luck to the Indian players who will take part in the Tokyo Olympics. His posts have drawn a lot of comments and likes from his numerous fans.

In one post which is a photo taken inside a gym, he reminds himself: “Look in the mirror. That is your competition.” Meaning that he must fight with himself and make himself better every day. Every player has been given a training programme by the trainer and all of them have to follow it regularly. For fast bowlers, it involves weight training – mostly deadlifts and shoulder presses – to strengthen the back and shoulders. These are the standard exercises for all fast bowlers.

Siraj is also doing a lot of jogging as a cardio workout to improve cardiovascular fitness to build up his endurance. He will need it all because there are strong indications that he will be selected to play in the Test series against England which is to begin at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, on August 4.

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A warm up game is scheduled to be held at Chester-le-Street on July 20. However, the Indian players have to take care because COVID cases are on the rise in the UK again.

According to the opinion of a board official, Siraj is very likely to replace Ishant Sharma in the bowling attack in the Tests. His omission from the Indian squad which lost the WTC final to New Zealand has opened the eyes of the team management and the selectors. It is now the widely held belief that he may have made the difference had he been in the team.

It is difficult to imagine that just five years ago, Siraj was a relatively unknown and untested player. But he made a name for himself by taking 41 wickets in the Ranji Trophy and ending up as the third highest wicket taker in 2016-17. His best figures in an innings were 5 wickets for 52 runs and best in a match were 9 wickets for 116 runs. Quite a remarkable achievement for a new bowler.

By the standards of the Indian sub-continent, Siraj made a late start to his cricket career. In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, players begin showing their mettle as soon as they are teenagers. Siraj was 21 years old when he came into the spotlight. But since then, he has made rapid progress. His 5 wicket haul in his debut Test match in Australia cemented his place in the side and it is expected that he will prove himself against England when he gets the opportunity very soon.

Abhijit Sen Gupta is a seasoned journalist who writes on Sports and various other subjects.