Royal Challengers Bangalore pacer Mohammed Siraj, who became the first bowler in IPL history to bowl two maidens in a single game, said skipper Virat Kohli's surprise decision to hand him the new ball lifted his confidence in the IPL match in Abu Dhabi.
Siraj's first three wickets came without conceding a run as he ripped through the KKR top order. RCB restricted KKR to a paltry 84/8 and chased down the target in 13.3 overs.
Once Chris Morris generated swing early on, Siraj was asked to bowl the second over following a discussion with wicketkeeper AB de Villiers. "We hadn't planned that I would open but when we went out, Virat bhai said 'Miyan, ready ho jao (Sir, get ready!), you will have to bowl...' It boosted my confidence," the Hyderabadi pacer, who returned with figures of 4-2-8-3, said after the eight-wicket win on Wednesday.
"Morris beat the batsmen (in the first over) and then Virat bhai spoke to AB de Villiers (behind the stumps) and gave me the bowl," he added. "Initially, I didn't think it would swing so much after seeing the wicket. I just backed my strength and really enjoyed a lot."
Brought in the second over, Siraj struck off his third ball with a good length delivery that went away from Rahul Tripathi. In his next delivery, he cleaned up Nitish Rana, with a ball that sharply cut back in and breached the left-hander's defence. In the next over, he accounted for Tom Banton with another outswing delivery.
His bowling figures became the most economical this season. A natural in-swing bowler, Siraj has been practising with the new ball and generating outswing in the practice sessions.
"I've been a natural inswing bowler but while practising I have started bowling outswing a lot better. "In our practise sessions, we have Devdutt Padikkal and Parthiv Patel. I bowl the same length to them which I bowled to Nitish Rana. I did the same thing in the game and was able to execute it well," he said.
Having endured a tough outing against the same side in 2019, it's now a story of going from being zero to hero for Siraj. Siraj was hammered for 36 runs in 2.2 overs before being removed from the attack for bowling two beamers as KKR chased down 206 with five balls to spare in their IPL 2019 match. In the same game, Siraj had also dropped a sitter from Chris Lynn and faced a lot a criticism.
Often sidelined in the presence of Chris Morris, Navdeep Saini and the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar, Siraj got his fourth match on Wednesday when he was included in place of Shahbaz Ahmed.
"I've always had a lot of support from the RCB setup. All I wanted to do this year was give a magical performance. I wanted to do something different this year," Siraj said.
"Whenever I used to think about my performance in the IPL, I had made up my mind that I would deliver a performance to remember. It's about doing something different, something magical," he concluded.