However, no matter how high he rises and how much success he achieves on the various cricket grounds around the world, 28-year-old Hyderabadi has remained rooted and grounded in his first love – the Maidan. He is fiercely loyal to the pitch in First Lancer, where he started playing with a tennis ball and doesn’t miss an opportunity to hang out there whenever he’s home. Nor has Siraj forgotten his childhood friends and makes sure to find them frequently.
The Indian team touched down in the city last night and although Siraj was tired after Sunday night’s game and the journey that followed, he showed up at the Maidan and spent an hour with his friends on the pitch. It turned out to be a ‘Chai pe charcha‘ session. On a cold late evening, the friends discussed nothing but cricket over a piping hot Irani chai.
“Siraj came to meet his friends and we spent an hour (9-10 p.m.) discussing his performance in the previous match where he took four wickets. He said he did everything for the fifth wicket, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Inshallah, he said, he was hoping to get it soon,” his closest friend Mohd Shafi told ToI on Tuesday.
By the way, Shafi was Siraj’s captain when they played tennis-ball cricket and the two are inseparable – brothers from different mothers. “Last night, there were about fifteen of us. Siraj never misses meeting her friends and spending time with them. He is still the same old Siraj and behaves no different despite being a cricketing superstar now,” Shafi said.
The friends can’t wait to see Siraj play at home in the Indian jersey. “I have watched all his IPL matches here, but seeing him in the Indian team shirt will be quite a different feeling. International cricket has a different aura, and it is a dream for every cricketer from to play for India. Although none of us can have a career in cricket, we are delighted to see Siraj doing so well. He represents all cricketers in Maidan,” Shafi said and added that more than A dozen friends will be in the stands cheering him on and hoping Siraj gets his first ODI five-wicket shot on his home turf.
Siraj’s family will also be present and the cricketer himself is delighted. “It will be my first international game at home, and I’m looking forward to it. I had played IPL games, but it will be different. My family will be there and my friends will be there and it will be a happy feeling to play. an international game ahead of them,” Siraj said after the 3rd ODI against Sri Lanka.
But the one person Siraj will miss in the stands is his father – Mohammed Ghaus, who died in November 2020 while Siraj was in Australia. Without Ghaus’ support, Siraj would not have been able to pursue cricket.