There is no denying the fact that MS Dhoni is one of the most successful captains, that Indian cricket has ever seen. But if Dhoni triggered a new landscape in Indian cricket, the mighty successful pair of former coach Ravi Shastri and former skipper, Virat Kohli broke down barriers. They have almost made Team India the best touring team in the world, as India won back-to-back Test series in Australia, drew in England, and reached the final of the inaugural World Test Championship.
Some of the most stories memorable comebacks were scripted by this unit, churning out a touch of dominance that only the Australian team of the early 2000s displayed. This period saw a plethora of young Indian players come to the fore and immediately create an impact – Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Shubman Gill… the list goes on.
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While all four of these men played their parts with aplomb, special mention goes to former bowling coach, Bharat Arun for shaping the fast-bowling attack. He transformed bowlers like Mohammed Siraj by helping them in every step of the way. Arun played a huge role in Siraj’s rise, guiding him through his time with Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy all the way to the Indian team in a short span of time.
In an interesting revelation, Arun revealed how Siraj would constantly be in touch with him, hoping to get a call-up to Team India. However, Arun felt the pacer was undercooked and told him to wait for his turn.
Describing the same, during a chat on Cricbuzz, Bharat Arun said, “Subsequently after doing well for Hyderabad, I went and joined the Indian team while Siraj played India A. And every time he did well in a match, he would call me and say ‘Sir, when are you calling me?’ I asked ‘Where?’. And he would go ‘… in the Indian team sir. When will I get a chance?’ I said ‘Pick more wickets and once you impress in India A tour, you will be there’.”
Mohammed Siraj was impressed one with his performances for India A, then the IPL. He made his India debut in 2017 but his economic rate was a concern, which forced him in and out of the Indian team. Siraj eventually made his Test debut in 2020, eventually going on to cement his place in the Playing XI, but that memory is still fresh in Arun’s mind
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Recalling the same, Bharat Arun said, “Every time he bowled a good spell, I thought he did an exceptional job while playing for India A. One such call I remember; Ravi Shastri asked me and was like ‘Kaun hai yeh? (Who is he?)’ I said ‘Siraj… this is the background and he is calling me to ask when he would be part of this Indian team. One thing Ravi told me was ‘you have to give him credit for his confidence’. Someone who has the belief to call me and ask me ‘When are you calling me? That’s confidence.”