India pacer Mohammed Siraj has opened up on the racial slurs hurled at him in Australia. The play was halted during the third Test in Sydney for about 10 minutes after Siraj complained of racial abuse from a section of the crowd. He reportedly was also targetted for abuse by a section of the crowd in the fourth Test in Brisbane.
After returning to India on Thursday after clinching the four-Test series 2-1, Siraj revealed that the umpires at the SCG told skipper Ajinkya Rahane to walk off the park and leave the game. Rahane, however, told the umpires that the team won't leave as they respect the game.
"Australian crowd started abusing me, it made me mentally strong. Not letting it hamper my performance was my prime concern. My job was to inform that I was being abused, I told the entire matter to captain Rahane. Umpires told us that you can walk off the field and leave the game but Ajju bhai told the umpire that we won't leave, we respect the game," said Siraj at a press conference in Hyderabad.
Siraj, who picked his maiden fifer at The Gabba, said that it was a 'difficult' time for him after losing his father. Siraj lost his father on 20 November, about a week after Indian contingent landed in Australia. Despite being given the option of returning home to attend the burial of his father, Siraj chose to stay back as it would've involved quarantine protocols.
After the Indian team's return to the country, the pacer went to the graveyard to pay respects to his deceased father. Siraj, who finished as the highest wicket-taker for India with 13 from three matches, dedicated his every wicket to his father. The Rahane-led Indian side defeated the Aussies by three wickets in the fourth and final Test to clinch the rubber 2-1 and retain the Border Gavaskar Trophy.
"It was a difficult phase for me, I lost my father and it was a bit taxing on me mentally. I spoke to my family, they told me to fulfill the dream of my father, my fiancee also backed me and the entire Indian cricket team was behind me. It was an emotional moment for me today,
I went to the graveyard. I entered my home, my mother started crying as soon as she saw me. I ate home-cooked food after a long time and it was really good to be back home," said Siraj.
"I dedicated my every wicket to my dad, I celebrated with Mayank Agarwal after taking wickets in the second innings of the Gabba Test, I dedicated my every wicket to dad. Before the series started, I never thought I would take five wickets. Because of the injuries, we had to up our game.
Everyone trusted me, they backed me, they told me that I am the leading bowler, I had pressure on me, but I enjoy challenges and I was just looking to hit the right areas on the Gabba wicket," he added