Siraj had to bide his time on Saturday, as stand-in skipper Rahane Ajinkya opted for spinner Ravichandran Ashwin as first change bowler on a moist wicket in the morning.
The captain’s call proved a sound one, as Ashwin took two wickets to leave Australia shaky at 65 for three at lunch.
Siraj was finally thrown the ball after lunch and made his presence felt with a bouncer that struck Marnus Labuschagne on the helmet.
Though wicketless from his first spell, Siraj returned to remove danger man Labuschagne for 48, helped by fellow debutant Shubman Gill’s fine catch at backward square leg, and pointed to the sky with teammates after his first Test wicket.
Siraj then trapped Cameron Green lbw for 12 with a ball that nipped back in after lulling the young all-rounder with a number of deliveries that moved away.
With Ishant Sharma and Shami sidelined, there were fears in India that pacemen Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav would have to shoulder too big a burden over the remainder of the series but Siraj’s special day renewed hope the tourists might have the resources to claw their way back in Melbourne.
After India went to stumps at 1-36, Bumrah, who led India’s bowling with four wickets, praised Siraj for his impressive support role.
“Playing his first international [Test] match, he bowled really well and he showed confidence of using all his skills,” he said. “That’s a very heartening sign for us and hopefully he continues to play like this.”