In tumultous year, filled with personal tragedy and unwarranted racist slurs from Australian fans, Mohammed Siraj has shown the resolve of a great performer as the pacer remained in Australia for the Test series amid all that is happening in his life.
And on Monday, the 26-year-old fast bowler registered his name into history books when he picked his five-wicket haul against Australia to give his side a chance at winning the match and subsequently the series, which is currently tied at 1-1.
His sacrifices were duly noted by his teammates as they lined-up to give Siraj a guard of honour after he finished his spell with 5/73 figures to pack Australia's second innings at 294; setting a target of 328.
It was surely a fine debut for Siraj, as he took five wickets in the game. However, it wasn't the performances in the cricket field which proved irksome for the pacer; Siraj faced racial abuse from a section of fans at the Sydney Cricket Ground earlier this month. The former players and fans have since lauded Siraj's strong reaction to racism, as he complained on the same to the umpires on the Day 4 of the Tets, eventually leading to the abusers being led out of the stadium.
It is worth point out that despite a number of hardships, Siraj continued to be at his best in terms of performances. In the final Test, Siraj, who was only two-Tests old, became the most senior pacer in the Indian XI -- thanks to the long list of injuries in the squad. And boy, did he live up to the tag.
Siraj struck in the first over of the Test, dismissing the dangerous David Warner. It was his only wicket of the innings but he remained the most economical pacer in the Indian innings.
In the second innings, Siraj was rewarded for his patience, as he made the most of the final opportunity to bowl in Australia, ending the series with his maiden fifer in Test cricket. The pacer began with a double-strike in the 31st over of the Australian innings, which proved key to India's comeback in the game. He dismissed Marnus Labuschagne (25) and Matthew Wade (0), before breaking another 73-run stand to dismiss Steve Smith (55).
The Aussies did fight back, adding crucial runs through Tim Paine (27) and Cameron Green (37), but Shardul Thakur removed the duo as the visitors remained in the hunt.
In the end, it boiled down to the tussle between Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj, as both remained on four wickets. Quite poetically, Thakur took the catch which gave Siraj his maiden five-wicket haul, as the pacer dismissed Josh Hazlewood on 9.