India's Siraj regains rhythm ahead of T20 World Cup

NEW DELHI: Royal Challengers Bengaluru's pace spearhead Mohammed Siraj produced a scintillating new-ball burst in yesterday's Indian Premier League (IPL) victory against Gujarat Titans to ease concerns over his form ahead of the T20 World Cup in June.

The 30-year-old, who has been picked in the 15-member India squad for the T20 showpiece, to be co-hosted by the United States and West Indies, has struggled for form and rhythm in the ongoing IPL.

Siraj showed what he is capable of with the new ball against Gujarat as he dismissed opener Wriddhiman Saha and rival captain Shubman Gill in successive overs to help bundle out Gujarat for 147.

Bengaluru won by four wickets with 38 balls remaining and are now seventh in the points table following their fourth win in 11 matches.

"I haven't bowled with the new ball too much this season," Siraj, who was adjudged player of the match for his figures of 2-29, said.

"But this felt great because that new ball is my strength.

"Last year I did really well with the new ball, I got a lot of wickets. Today's performance brought back memories of last year."

Siraj is one of the three specialist fast bowlers in India's World Cup squad, and the right-arm quick was rested from the home game against Sunrisers last month.

"I had been playing red-ball cricket for a long time, and then suddenly a shift to white ball was not easy," he said.

"I was lacking in rhythm initially. I felt something was lacking. But as I kept on practicing, I got my rhythm back."

Bengaluru assistant coach Adam Griffith was pleased with Siraj's return to form.

"Siraj is a rhythm bowler. He's the leader of our group," Griffith said.

"He's such an important part of what we're trying to do.

"So, having him up and going, swinging the ball again, bowling with good pace, and being aggressive is so important."

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