India pacer Mohammed Siraj was in tears when India's national anthem was being played before the start of the third Test against Australia on Thursday. Tears rolled down Siraj's eyes before Jasprit Bumrah, standing next to him, gave the Hyderabadi pacer a pat on the back.
Siraj had lost his father in November, days after the Indian team landed in Australia for the multi-format tour. The right-handed pacer was also given the option to head back home to be with his family. Siraj, however, chose to stay in Australia as it would've involved quarantine periods.
Siraj had a fruitful outing in the Boxing Day clash, his maiden Test, where he plucked five wickets at the MCG. In the on-going Sydney Test, he removed David Warner early in the innings to provide the visitors with a good start.
After the end of the day's play, Siraj explained why he was unable to hide his emotions. "I missed my dad when the national anthem was playing. It was an emotional moment. My dad wanted me to play Test cricket for India. He would've seen me playing if he was alive," said Siraj during the virtual press conference.
Siraj's on-field moment received applause from several fans as well as cricketers. Former India batsmen Wasim Jaffer and Mohammad Kaif both lauded Siraj's emotions.
Jaffer, in fact, used Dhoni's word to heap praise on Siraj. “Even if there's little or no crowd to cheer you on, no better motivation than playing for India. As a legend once said: 'You don't play for the crowd, you play for the country.',” Jaffer tweeted. The quote, "You don't play for the crowd, you play for the country," was initially given by former India skipper MS Dhoni.
The 2011 World Cup-winning skipper had made the comment after India's defeat against South Africa in the very same tournament. It eventually turned out to be India's only defeat in the 2011 World Cup where they lifted the trophy by defeating Sri Lanka in the final.
Meanwhile, India are currently tied 1-1 in the four-Test series against Australia. After levelling the series with a comprehensive victory in Melbourne, Ajinkya Rahane-led Indian unit will be eyeing to gain a 2-1 lead by defeating mighty Australians in the third Test in Sydney. In absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli, the Indian contingent put up a commendable effort at the MCG, recovering sharply from their horror batting collapse in the first Test at Adelaide Oval.