Speaking on the The RCB Podcast, Siraj recalled, "When I bowled those two beamers against KKR, people said 'quit cricket and go back and drive autos with your father'. There were so many such comments. And people don't see the struggle behind all this.”
On the advice from Dhoni that helped him tide over tough times, the pacer added, “I remember when I first got selected how Mahi bhai (MS Dhoni) told me to not listen to everything the people have to say about me. 'You do well today and they'll praise you and when you don't the same people will abuse you. So don't ever take it seriously.' And yes, the same people who trolled me incessantly back then say 'you're the best bowler bhai'. So, I know. I don't want anybody's opinion. I'm the same Siraj I was back then."
Siraj came back well in IPL 2020 after which he was picked for India and even ended up making his Test debut in Australia. With India battling multiple injury issues heading into the Gabba Test, Siraj was suddenly the team’s most experienced bowler in the game. He rose to the occasion with a memorable five-wicket in India’s historic win.
During the series, Siraj battled personal tragedy. He lost his father but stayed back to play for India. The pacer said, "Dad wasn't keeping well in 2020. So whenever I used to speak to him, we were always crying on the call. So I didn't talk a lot with him because he'd keep crying and it made me feel very helpless.”
"When the IPL got over, nobody told me dad was so seriously ill. Whenever I called or asked, they'd say he's sleeping or he's resting, so I'd tell them okay don't disturb him. It was only when I reached Australia that I got to know that dad was in such a critical condition.
Siraj added, that he fought with my entire family, asking they why they didn’t inform him earlier. He revealed, “They'd say we didn't want it to affect your career or your concentration and it made me angry. I told them if you would've told me earlier I would have at least met him before leaving for Australia.”
The pacer further said, "When he finally spoke to me, all he asked of me was to focus on playing for the country, fulfilling my dream and making the country proud. That's all I remembered and that's the only reason I stayed back...I thought of leaving the day he passed, but his words were the only thing that kept me back in Australia."
--By A Cricket Correspondent