Virat Kohli was the ideal captain and a support that Mohammed Siraj desperately needed at a time of great personal loss. The young fast bowler had just lost his father and had to make the tough choice of either flying back home or stay with the rest of the squad members in Australia. After some deliberation, Siraj chose the latter. The one who gave courage and helped Siraj make his mind up was captain Kohli.
Kohli is no stranger to overcoming personal tragedy while carrying on with professional duties. In 2007, Kohli, then a teenager, lost his father in the middle of a Ranji Trophy match but he came back next day to score 97 and help Delhi draw the important game, showing his mental fortitude.
“Virat bhai said ‘Miyaan tension maat le (don’t be tensed) and be strong. Your dad wanted you to play for India. So, do that and don’t stress,” the 26-year-old Siraj told ‘bcci.tv’ on the sidelines of India’s training session in Sydney.
Siraj’s father Mohammed Ghouse, 53, died due to a lung ailment in Hyderabad last week and despite BCCI offering him the option to return home, the fast bowler decided to stay put on national duty.
“The skipper told me, ‘If you can be strong in this situation, it will only help you’. So those were positive words from the Indian captain and it felt nice.”
Siraj’s father drove auto rickshaw during his formative years as a cricketer and has been the single biggest influence on the Hyderabad man.
“It’s a huge loss for me as he was the biggest support system of my life. He wanted me to shine for my country and my mindset now is to fulfil his dreams,” he said.
Siraj thanked his teammates, who have rallied around him.
“I am indebted to my teammates as they stood by me in these tough times and every thing was well taken care of,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)