HYDERABAD: Like most kids in the country, a young Mohammed Siraj used to trade his bag and books for bat and ball after school. Sometimes he would be confronted by his angry mother who demanded he be more like his studious elder brother. On Monday, he fulfilled her demands and then some more, fetching in IPL-10 auctions, what his IT professional brother would take a few years to earn.
Siraj was bought by current IPL champions and his home franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad for a windfall -- Rs 2.6 crore.
His IPL entry is another step in a journey that has defied belief. Less than three years ago, the right-arm pacer was yet to play with a proper cricket ball and was still stuck in tennis-ball games.
Then he got a chance to play for Charminar Cricket Club in a two-day game. He was so unprepared that he did not even have proper shoes for the game. But that was a point from where he never looked back.
When he got his Ranji chance, he grabbed it with both hands, surprising everyone with pace and bounce. After being joint-third on the leading wicket-takers' list with 41 kills, he was selected in the Irani Trophy Rest of India squad, and then for India A.
Siraj now wants to use his IPL chance to make the India squad. "It will definitely be a great platform to show my talent as my dream is to play for India," he says.
So what is he going to do with that money? Siraj has a debt to pay off first. His father Mohammed Ghouse used to drive an autorickshaw around the city all day for money to spend on his cricketing gear. His mother was a housemaid till a year ago.
"Now it is my turn to make them happy as they have struggled a lot," says an emotional Siraj. "I am looking to buy a big, new house in Hyderabad for my family." And maybe now, he hopes, his father can stop driving his auto-rickshaw.