Imran Tahir hopes can be an inspiration to South Africa
It was a tactic that put England into an early spin in their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 opener - and Imran Tahir hopes his heroics with the new ball have convinced South Africa captain Faf du Plessis he is capable of the job on a more regular basis.
The first spinner to bowl the opening ball of a Cricket World Cup, Tahir, 40, responded in emphatic style, removing Jonny Bairstow with only his second delivery as South Africa made a flying start to the competition.
Coming in a 104-run defeat, the shock tactic’s success was the one major high point of an otherwise disappointing curtain-raiser for the third-ranked side in the world.
A raft of changes may well follow as Du Plessis looks to redress the balance, but even with pace bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi waiting in the wings, Tahir hopes he will now be the man his skipper turns to when he is looking for inspiration.
“It was a plan which I had been working on for the last year or so, so I think we knew that it was going to be pretty much a shock for everybody,” he said.
“But it was great challenge bowling against two top players in world cricket. I was just really pleased the way I came out and I got a wicket for the team and that was our plan which worked.
“Whenever I get an opportunity again like that, you know, I won't be the guy who is saying, no to my captain, because I like challenges.
“I like to think that my captain can give me a ball in any situation and I will be the first guy to say yes.
“I’m not so not sure what's going to happen in the next one, but I’m fully prepared, and I'm going to be ready to be given the ball in any situation.”
A veteran of the international game, Tahir is in line to make his 100th ODI appearance for South Africa in Sunday’s clash against Bangladesh at the Oval.
The milestone affords the 40-year-old the opportunity to look back on eight years of service for his country, especially with Tahir due to retire from ODI cricket at the end of this summer’s competition.
He said: “It feels really special. I played my first game at the 2011 World Cup and it's been an amazing journey.
“I always dreamt that, but I never thought I will be here one day playing my 100th game for South Africa, so it's an absolute honour and a privilege being given the opportunity.
“I'm just really grateful to everybody, and I hope that I gave everything that I could for the country.”
Roundly defeated in their opener against England, attention turns to setting the record straight on the same ground against a talented Bangladesh side on Sunday.
Pressure abounds - particularly from an expectant public back home - but Tahir believes his teammates are in perfect shape to shoulder that considerable burden at the Oval.
“Look, there is always a pressure when you are representing your country, he added.
“We have been beaten by the very good England team who have been dominating world cricket for a year or so.
“We are going to learn from our mistakes. There will be a pressure, but we will look forward to the challenge and the pressure.”
©Cricket World 2019