Mohammed Siraj did not return home in November when his father died, instead deciding to stay in Australia and try to fulfill a dream for his late father.
Within weeks, he rose from the rank of backup bowler – chosen for the tour as cover following injuries to veteran pacemen – to leading the injury-exhausted Indian attack in the decisive test match at Gabba.
He captured his first five-wicket transfer on Monday, helping sack Australia for late 294 on the penultimate day of the fourth and final test., leaving India a goal of 328 to win.
“If he was alive he would have been so happy,” Siraj said. “But I had his blessing and that’s why I took five wickets today. I’m speechless today, about that performance. I don’t have many words.”
Siraj said he recalled a conversation with his mother, which encouraged him to stay on tour in Australia and make his father proud.
“I spoke with my people at home. I felt strong after talking to my family, talking to my mom, and I was also strong mentally about it. My goal was to make my father’s wish for me come true. Thank goodness that was accomplished today. Let’s see what will happen tomorrow. “
The most successful Gabba chase came in 1951, when Australia finished 236-7 against the West Indies. The Australians haven’t lost at Gabba since 1988, but no one counts India.
And it’s because of the way Siraj and the other players recruited to fill in the gaps left by the lack of regular starters took the game that makes tourists so confident.
The forerunners faced 1.5 overs before the rain stopped playing and India finished four unbeaten – a shot from Rohit Sharma.
Stumps was called in shortly after 5 p.m. local time, giving India three sessions, weather permitting, to try to secure an additional 324 races.
Siraj put in two catches before picking up Steve Smith’s key wicket for 55 in the middle session.
Australia were 243-7 at tea on day four – a downpour of rain forcing an early break – with an overall lead of 276 and a seemingly imminent declaration.
But the hosts continued to beat when play resumed in gloomy conditions in the evening session, adding 51 more races for three wickets.
Pat Cummins finished undefeated on 28. Nathan Lyon, on his 100th test, took Australia’s lead past 300 when he snagged a six from Siraj but was struck out soon after for 13, giving in Thakur his fourth wicket of the innings and seventh of the match.
Thakur took the hook from Siraj’s bowling alley to fire last man Josh Hazlewood (9). Siraj, leading India’s attack on his third test only in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and spinner Ravichandran Ashwin due to injury, came back 5-73 for his career best numbers.