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SL vs. IND, 3rd ODI, 2022–23: Mohammed Siraj is a gifted player

Senior players Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma discern that pacer Mohammed Siraj’s remarkable run of form in 50-over cricket drills well for the Indian side heading into the ICC World Cup 2023. In the absence of prime pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who has been on the sidelines due to a lower back stress fracture, Siraj has materialised as India’s most thriving bowler in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in the past year.

“[Mohammed] Shami has always been there for us, but the way Siraj has come in and done with the new ball has been outstanding. He has taken the maximum number of wickets in the powerplay, which was an issue for us early. He is always making the batters think, which is a great sign for us going into the World Cup,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation after India’s 317-run conquest over Sri Lanka in the third and final ODI.

Siraj, who tilted the Sri Lankan top order, missed out on a fifer but returned with impressive figures of 4/32. “Good to see how he was bowling and deserved all those slips. He is a rare talent. The way he has come up over the last few years is good to see,” skipper Rohit spoke.

“He [Siraj] has come from strength to strength, and that’s good for Indian cricket. We tried all sorts of things [to get his fifer], but it didn’t happen, unfortunately. But the four wickets are all his, and the fifers will come. He has a few tricks up his sleeves, which he is working on, and it’s there to see,” added Rohit.

India completed a 3-0 clean sweep of Sri Lanka in the ODI series. “It was a great series for us. Lots of positives. We bowled well, got wickets when needed, and the batters throughout the series piling on the runs was good to watch,” explained Rohit. India is scheduled to play three ODIs and as many Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) versus New Zealand starting Wednesday.

“We’ll get to the drawing board quickly [for the upcoming series] and see how the pitch is, then decide how the combinations will be. They [NZ] are coming off a series win in Pakistan. So, it won’t be an easy task at all,” Rohit added. His side’s execution dispirited Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka.

“It’s disappointing. Not a game we wanted. It happens. We need to learn how to manage the start. Bowlers should learn to take wickets on these decks, and the batters should learn to score. Playing positive cricket is the more important thing. If the boys had shown intent, the bowling would have been different. Congratulations to the Indian team for this performance,” illustrated Shanaka.

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