Former Indian batsman VVS Laxman believes Indian pacer Mohammed Siraj might be tired or carrying a niggle on Day 2 of the Oval Test. Siraj was bowling below the 130kmph mark consistently, which led Laxman to come to a particular conclusion.
Skipper Virat Kohli used the bowler only for five overs in the first session. However, a rejuvenated Siraj provided India a quick breakthrough in the post-lunch session. He removed a well-settled Jonny Bairstow to bring India back into the game.
In a conversation with ESPNcricinfo, Laxman opined that the Indian captain will have to find a way to maximize whatever Siraj can provide.
“Shardul Thakur doesn’t look penetrative and, somewhere down the line, I feel (Mohammed) Siraj is carrying a niggle. Not very often you see him bowling below 130. Either that, or he is tired. That’s why the bulk of the bowling is being done by Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, and Umesh Yadav. Kohli will have to find a way to utilise Siraj,” he said.
Siraj is a lion-hearted bowler who gives his hundred percent to the team every time he steps onto the field. Therefore, it came as a huge surprise and also raised concerns for Laxman.
“It was evident even in the way he bowled at Headingley. He was charging in at Nottingham and Lord’s. When he bowled on the last day at Lord’s, when he got those four wickets, he had a lot of energy and intensity.”
“It was missing when he bowled the third or fourth spell at Headingley. Right from the first ball he bowled yesterday, it looked like he was carrying a niggle,” Laxman added.
“In all those matches he has bowled his heart out” – VVS Laxman on Siraj
Prior to the start of the game, Kohli stated that both Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami were ruled out due to minor niggles. Since it’s a five-match series, the bowlers need to be rotated in order to maintain their fitness. An injury to Siraj could be very tough to digest for the team.
“It can happen. Someone who is bowling with that kind of intensity, you can feel exhausted at the end of three Test matches. In all those matches, he has bowled his heart out. Virat Kohli needs to find a way to utilise Siraj better and rotate the bowlers around,” Laxman concluded.
In response to India’s total of 191, England had pulled ahead courtesy of Ollie Pope’s beautiful innings at his home ground. At Tea, England was 227/7, with Pope batting on 74 with Chris Woakes.