Mohammed Siraj or Navdeep Saini: The Better Pick for Tests

Over the past few years, India has produced many fast bowlers. The talent of these new pacers gets attention every year in the IPL. Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini have been two names that have caught attention in the past few seasons of IPL and they have got their national call now. Let’s compare and see who is the better pick between them in Tests.

Early Years

Mohammed Siraj, the son of an auto-rickshaw driver, started playing cricket in his childhood. But he took cricket seriously from 2015 and started working hard towards it. He came into the picture in the 2016-2017 Ranji Trophy season as he assisted Hyderabad to a quarter-final finish. He was pitching the ball in the right areas and got the result in his way at the end of the season.

Siraj ended up with 41 wickets inclusive of 3 four-wicket hauls and 1 fifer and ended up as the third-highest wicket-taker in the tournament. He was applauded for his pace and bounce which troubled the batsmen.

Ranji Trophy 2016-17 Best XI of the season

Mohammed Siraj (Image credit: Telangana Today)

One year later to Siraj’s arrival, India saw another fast bowler ready in the queue. Navdeep Saini got into the limelight in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy home season as he guided Delhi to greater heights. Delhi reached the Ranji Trophy final, where they were outplayed by Vidarbha. Saini shined in the Delhi camp taking 34 wickets and being in the list of top 5 wicket-takers in the tournament. His serious pace was a sight to behold.

Navdeep Saini (Image credit: BCCI | Instagram)

IPL debut

Soon after these two put up good performances in the domestic season, they were fast-tracked to the IPL. Sunrisers Hyderabad went for Siraj in the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). He went from a minimal base price of 20 lakhs INR to a final winning bid of 2.6 crores INR. SRH’s coach Tom Moody was quite impressed with Siraj and with Ashish Nehra being injured, the gate was opened for him. Guess what? He didn’t take much time and got his first wicket in his first over itself. “First game, First over, First wicket”.

IPL 2017 - Match 40: DD v SRH

Image credit: IPLT20 | Twitter

He was the “hit-the-deck” kind of a bowler. He ran hard and hit the deck hard which provided pace and bounce. Siraj ended up playing 6 games in the league and bagged 10 wickets.

The story was quite similar for Navdeep Saini. After his remarkable performance in the domestic season, he was the focal point in the bidding war of various franchises. Royal Challengers Bangalore got his services for a whopping 3 crores INR. Spectators were stunned with the pace with which he was dealing with. He took 11 wickets in his debut season.

International Debut:

After a convincing IPL season in 2017, Siraj soon got a national call-up in the second T20I against New Zealand in 2017. Although he didn’t have a great debut as he was smacked for 53 runs in his 4 overs, he did get a big wicket in Williamson. India lost that match, but everyone backed Siraj as he had that potential.

On the other hand, Saini had a dream debut against West Indies in Florida in the first T20I. Saini picked up the 3 most important wickets in Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard and Shimron Hetmyer. He ended up with the figures 4-1-17-3 and was also named Player of the match.

He consistently bowled with 145+kmph in that match. In fact, skipper Kohli was quite impressed with him.

Navdeep Saini is from Delhi. He is a raw talent, has raw pace. He is one of them who can bowl 150 clicks and there are hardly any who bowl at that pace and he is fit. Saini is someone who can build a name for himself and he is hungry as well. Hopefully, he builds on from here

Virat Kohli

As Mohammed Shami got injured in the current test series against Australia, India had to make a choice to replace someone with Shami. There were two major contenders in Saini and Siraj.

Here came the question:

Who is a better option in Test Cricket for India?

Before jumping into the conclusion, a point to be noted is that none of them has debuted in test cricket. We just need to keep in mind, who can handle the red ball well?

Ability to swing the ball:

As we know, the red ball is completely different from the white ball. You might see movement with the white ball early in the innings but as the game progresses, the shine goes off and the movement reduces drastically. As far as the red ball is concerned, reverse swing plays a very important role in a test match.

India played a couple of practice games prior to the test series. Siraj was magnificent in the first match as he was he got the ball to swing.

Embed from Getty Images

Swinging the ball is very important in test cricket. No matter how fast the bowler is bowling, if he isn’t allowing the ball to swing, he might face some issues. Siraj races ahead of Saini in this case. Siraj bowled around 135-140 kmph and was making the batsman play the ball and eventually nick it. His skills got evident in an IPL game against KKR in 2020 where he ran over the batting order with a proper test match line and length.

Mohammed Siraj of Royal Challengers Bangalore celebrates the wicket of Pat  Cummins of Kolkata Knight Riders during match 28 of season 13 of the Indian  Premier League (IPL ) between the Royal

Image credit: IPLT20 | Twitter

That performance was quite crucial for him as he showed his talent in the right way.

Moreover, Siraj’s bouncers were on the money. Having said that, I’m not taking anything away from Saini. Saini is a quick bowler who has the potential to click 150kmph. But, it’s just that, he doesn’t have as much control over the ball as Siraj does. Saini, in desperation to bowl quick, loses his line and length at times. This thing was noticeable in Saini’s IPL season recently. He bowled a number of no-balls in the death overs in order to bowl quick. By any chance, this doesn’t mean that he isn’t a test bowler.
He just falls behind in comparison with Siraj with a very small margin.

Mohammed Siraj was selected ahead of Saini in the second test against Australia. As expected, he did a very good job. He has picked a total of 5 wickets in the game bowling at impressive lengths.

Featured Image: Royal Challengers Bangalore | Instagram

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *