Sydney: Fast bowler Mohammed Siraj could not hold back the tears as India's national anthem played before the start of the third Test in Australia on Thursday, and he revealed later that thoughts of his late father had overcome him.
TV cameras zoomed in on the teary-eyed Siraj, and the images soon went viral.
The 26-year-old, who made a startling debut in the second Test victory when he took five wickets, made the tough decision to stay with the Indian squad after his father died in November.
"At the time of the national anthem I remembered my dad," Siraj told reporters at the end of the day's play and he had claimed the first wicket to fall.
"He wanted to see me play Test cricket for India and today he would have been proud had he been alive."
Siraj's father died on 20 November as India prepared for the start of their tour.
The bowler, who also plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, stayed in the team's secure bubble despite an offer to fly home.
Siraj praised his father, an auto-rickshaw driver from the southern city of Hyderabad, for backing his dream to become a top cricketer.
His tears inspired many comments on social media.
Former India opener Wasim Jaffer used a quote from ex-India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni: "Even if there's little or no crowd to cheer you on, no better motivation than playing for India," Jaffer wrote on Twitter.
Even if there's little or no crowd to cheer you on, no better motivation than playing for India. As a legend once said "You don't play for the crowd, you play for the country." 🇮🇳 #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/qAwIyiUrSI
— Wasim Jaffer (@WasimJaffer14) January 7, 2021
Another former Test player, Mohammad Kaif, posted an image of Siraj wiping away tears adding: "I just want certain people to remember this picture. He is Siraj Mohammed and this is what the national anthem means to him."
— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) January 7, 2021
The two sides went into the third of the four-match series level at 1-1.
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