Imran Tahir destined for Proteas pick

2010-10-12 00:00

THE KZN Dolphins have only just started to enjoy his presence, but they look increasingly likely to lose the services of Imran Tahir to national duty.

Coach Graham Ford said as much after Sunday’s late, late draw against the Warriors in Maritzburg.

“If he keeps going in that vein, I fear that we won’t see him bowling for us much longer. The Proteas will be after him,” Ford conceded.

Tahir, according to Cricket South Africa, will qualify for the Proteas in December.

Quite when in the month of December is yet to be confirmed, with Tahir himself none the wiser.

He is due to get more clarity on the matter this week, and a Proteas attack featuring Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel and Wayne Parnell, plus the potent threat of a top-class leggie, suddenly looks like a real handful for all kinds of opposition.

“I have said it for a long time, that it is my dream to play for South Africa,” Tahir said after collecting his man-of-the-match award for his nine wickets against the Warriors.

“If it happens, I will be very happy and proud, because this country is my home,” he added.

Though Paul Harris is the incumbent, and has done a steady job for Graeme Smith over the last few years, Tahir would give Smith a whole new world of possibilities.

Ford has always maintained that the mere presence of a quality wrist-spinner in the opposition ranks can send ripples of doubt and fear when he really gets going.

Tahir’s relentless pursuit for a breakthrough almost snatched the points for the Dolphins, and the 30-year-old says he thrives under the pressure of performing on the last day.

“When the batters have done their bit, it is obviously my job to try and get the wickets, especially on a last day,” the fiercely competitive Tahir said.

So fierce, in fact, that his unsuccessful appeal for Makhaya Ntini’s wicket at the very end earned him a visit to the match referee’s office.

“I thought it was out, and I am very passionate about getting wickets.

“It’s my job, and I am very happy to get a fiver in my second match for the Dolphins,” Tahir added.

He admitted to being slightly tense and tired in the first round against the Knights in Kimberley, but he spun a web around many of the Warriors’ batsmen over the weekend.

“The first match was on a pitch that was quite green, and maybe I tried too much.

“I think I was also a bit tired from a season of county cricket. But now I feel fresher and I was happy with the way I bowled.”

Tahir will play his first home match at Kingsmead this week against his former franchise the Titans, and he already has fond memories of playing there.

“I took five wickets for the Titans against the Dolphins there, but I am very excited to play there as a Dolphin now,” he diplomatically added with a smile.

His presence has already given the Dolphins new belief, and Ford is hopeful that Tahir can pass on his nous and passion to the likes of Tabriaz Shamsi before he moves on to bigger things.

“That’s the plan, to get him showing our youngsters the ropes. When he leaves, you need a handy back-up.”

Tahir’s passionate appealing and his aeroplane celebration at the fall of a wicket have already endeared him to fans and team-mates.

And while the Dolphins have cautiously dubbed their new star “Immy”, the very select few in the press box prefer to call him ‘The Tiger’, because of the very deliberate and cunning manner in which he prowls his prey of willow-wielders.

The Tiger will be looking to strike again in Durban this week.

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