Tahir: No pressure without JP

Aaron Phangiso (Gallo Images)
Aaron Phangiso (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - There is no doubt that Imran Tahir will play a crucial role in South Africa's potential 'do-or-die' ICC World Twenty20 clash against the West Indies on Friday. 

Nagpur is the venue ... the Proteas returning to the 'dust-bowl' for the first time since they lost 20 wickets for 264 runs in the third Test against India back in November. 

The wicket is expected to turn once more, and although the Proteas are set to include Aaron Phangiso for the first time in the tournament, Tahir will still be the chief destroyer.

He averages 15.75 in T20I cricket and goes at just 6.7 to the over - his 40 wickets in 25 matches having earned him a reputation as one of the most dangerous T20 bowlers in world cricket. 

That means that the Proteas have a banked eight overs of spin in Tahir and Phangiso ... but they will be missing the services of JP Duminy, who has been ruled out with a hamstring strain. 

Duminy's current bowling form is still nowhere near his best, but it may have come in handy if this Nagpur wicket turns as much as is expected. 

It means that more importance will be placed on the spells of Tahir and Phangiso, but South Africa's leg-spinner is as cool as you like. 

"There is no pressure on me, I’ll be honest with you. I enjoy playing for South Africa every time I play," Tahir said.

"This is one of those things … about JP … you can’t control. There is no doubt he’s been in his best form for us but we have players in the squad who can cover him.

"We’re looking forward to whoever is coming in and replacing him."

Tahir expressed his faith in Phangiso, who has had a whirlwind few months of both on-field and off-field problems. 

"He’s (Phangiso) been doing really well before and it’s not a new thing for him to come in and play in a big event," Tahir said.

"He’s been working hard in the nets and I’m very excited to bowl with him … I hope he’ll do well."

Tahir would also not place too much emphasis on the wicket, and he dismissed any notions that the Proteas were still scarred following their woeful Test display at the venue.

"I think as a spinner I am excited about it, but we need to play good cricket on the day to beat the opposition," he said.

"It’s not all about the wicket. For me, it looks a good wicket and we’re hoping for a good game.

"That was a Test match and this is T20 cricket … a totally different format. If you look at our T20 record it’s been solid and that gives us a lot of confidence going into this one. We just hope that we play good cricket on the day."

The match gets underway at 16:00 on Friday.

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