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Pakistan-born Tahir SA World Cup prospect

Some days back Imran Tahir was making headlines for his extraordinary love story that saw him quit Pakistan and relocate to South Africa, home to his then girlfriend and now wife.

cricket Updated: Jan 11, 2011 01:13 IST
Subhash Rajta

Some days back Imran Tahir was making headlines for his extraordinary love story that saw him quit Pakistan and relocate to South Africa, home to his then girlfriend and now wife.

Life had been good since and he was happy. There was, however, one more dream he and his wife wanted to realise - play for South Africa one day.

Still they wouldn't even have expected in their wildest dreams that their prayers would be answered so soon. Not only has the leg spinner has been named in the South Africa's ODI squad against India, but on Monday he was also drafted into the Proteas preliminary World Cup squad.

What's even more flattering to the leg spinner is that Cricket South Africa has created a berth for him by withdrawing Jonathan Vandiar from the squad. "We feel that we need to widen our bowling options," said Cricket South Africa (CSA) selection convener Andrew Hudson.

As much as it may be pleasing and flattering, the tag of 'chosen one' brings with it a lot of responsibility and the added pressure to live up to expectations.

But before he proves himself at the biggest stage, he has a tough challenge of proving his credentials at the international level against the Indian batsmen. Tahir has no doubt impressed people in England while playing county cricket and in South Africa's first class competition, but the challenge of bowling to Indian batsmen is the ultimate test for any spinner. Tahir is acutely aware of it. "It's indeed a huge challenge to bowl to Indian batsmen, but I have been bowling well. I did well in England and have been doing well in South Africa. So, I have nothing to lose and I am quite confident of doing well as and when I get an opportunity," said Tahir.

South Africa has always lacked an attacking spinner in their line-up, and that has cost them dear on many occasions. Even in the recently concluded Test series against India, Paul Harris, the left-arm spinner, did more of a containing job.

Tahir promises South Africa just what they have been missing all along. "I may go for a few runs but I try to pick wickets. That's how I have always bowled and that's how I intend to go about it at the international stage as well." Given that many South African players had to move to England to get breaks into the international scene, a Pakistani spinner donning the Proteas colours is nothing less than breaking new ground. Spin it like Tahir