Tahir gains valuable match practice
South Africa ‘A’ wrapped up a comfortable innings victory against Sri Lanka ‘A’ on Monday but of particular interest to the national selectors was the form of leg-spinner Imran Tahir who bowled an extended spell on the last day of the match.
Tahir bowled an unchanged spell of 22.4-4-82-3 as he gained some invaluable match practice ahead of the Proteas’ three-test tour of England which begins later this month.
The 33-year-old Tahir bowled reasonably well considering that it was his first competitive match of the season and, although he served up a few full tosses and bowled a touch too short at times, he also produced some wonderful deliveries.
He did manage to extract some spin out of the Kingsmead wicket, although it was slow, and he had a few confident leg-before-wicket shouts turned down while he bowled the right-handed Kosala Kulasekara with a superb top-spinner that pegged back the batsman’s off stump.
Faf du Plessis, the captain of SA ‘A’, said that it had been important to give Tahir an extended bowl as it could only benefit the senior side.
“Imran is a ‘gun’ in any bowling attack so I gave him the ball in the 17th or 18th over and said ‘just go and bowl’. But it was important for me just to give him a run because I had the bigger picture for him in mind,” Du Plessis told reporters after the match.
“I would have given him the rest of the day just to bowl because that really is what the SA ‘A’ side is there for, to prepare guys and help them get ready (for South Africa duty). He told me that the ball was really coming out nicely and he is happy with where he is at,” he said.
Du Plessis said that the match practice for Tahir was invaluable as it was not something that could be replicated adequately in the nets.
“At the beginning of the innings he had to get used to bowling again. He bowled a few full tosses but after about his sixth or seventh over he was landing the ball regularly on a good spot. Any spinner well tell you that the more you bowl the more confident you get.
“Time in the middle is important because you can bowl as much as you want in the nets but those 20 (sic) overs he bowled today will really give him confidence for the England tour,” explained Du Plessis.
Du Plessis can look back on the first unofficial test against Sri Lanka ‘A ‘with some pride as his team completed an innings and eight-run victory inside three days as they comprehensively outplayed the tourists whose batsmen seemed to have some difficulty adjusting to the extra bounce that the Kingsmead wicket offered up.
The visitors were bowled out for 170 and 247 with the hosts responding with a massive 435 for six declared with Du Plessis weighing in with 144 and opening batsman Dean Elgar contributing 171 as the pair put on a 292-run third wicket partnership.
The pace bowlers also performed admirably with Rory Kleinveldt claiming 4-47 in the visitors first innings and Ryan McLaren nabbing 5-60 in the second innings.
Du Plessis, understandably, was proud of his team’s performance especially considering that it is still essentially pre-season in South Africa.
“I thought we were excellent in all phases of the game and every guy contributed to the win. I was a bit concerned personally because I haven’t played four-day cricket in a long time. But in the build up the guys were practicing really hard and to have our disciplines nailed down like that at the beginning of the season is great for the team going forward,” he said.
Du Plessis said that he was also pleased with his form as he sets about proving to the national selectors that he is a potential test batsman and not just a limited-overs cricketer.
“I have spent the last 12 months trying to replicate my one-day form in four-day cricket. Scoring hundreds in one-day cricket motivated me because scoring runs in any format of the game is still scoring runs, it’s just all about how to construct your innings. That is something I have learnt a lot about in the last season and that is that when I do get in that I make hundreds.
“I told myself that selectors don’t look at 50s and 60s, they look at hundreds,” he added.