By: Melvin Samuel
India’s pace sensation Mohammed Siraj has capped off a superb 12 months by claiming the No 1 spot on the ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings for bowlers from New Zealand seamer Trent Boult.
It has been a meteoric rise for Siraj, who only returned to India’s ODI setup in February last year following a three-year hiatus without playing a 50-over match at the international level. Since then Siraj has scalped 37 wickets from 20 matches to be one of India’s most consistent fast bowlers and the accolades have started to pile in for the underrated 28-year-old.
On Tuesday, Siraj was named in the ICC Men’s ODI Team of the Year while Wednesday brought in more joy for the pacer as he went past Boult and Australia seamer Josh Hazlewood to become the top-ranked ODI bowler for the very first time.
Not only has Siraj’s form over the last 12 months been imperious, but his efforts in the ODI series at home earlier this month against Sri Lanka and New Zealand have shown how much the right-arm pacer has improved in recent times.
India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey challenged Siraj to work on specific aspects of his game in the middle of last year and the extra training that the energetic quick has put in has paid off in spades judged on recent performances.
Siraj took nine wickets against Sri Lanka to be the leading wicket-taker for the three-game series and backed that up by claiming a four-wicket haul in the opening match of the recently-completed series against New Zealand.
Siraj has been India’s go-to bowler in the first 10 overs of the initial powerplay, though he has found success at every phase of the game. Often, he has provided team India with good starts by taking early wickets, which was increasingly evident in recent ODI outings against Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
In 2022, he was India’s highest wicket-taker in ODIs, having taken 24 scalps in 15 matches at an average of 23.50 and an economy rate of 4.62. His best bowling figures last year were 3-29.
In five matches this year, he has become the world’s leading wicket-taker in ODIs. He has taken 14 wickets at an average of 10.57 and an economy rate of 3.82. His best bowling figures this year are 4-32.
With his superb exploits, Siraj jumps to the top of the ODI bowler rankings with 729 rating points, albeit narrowly, with his lead at the top over Hazlewood just two rating points higher than the Australian.