Imran Tahir is getting ready for his final ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup by picking up new tricks and putting in match-winning performances at the Indian Premier League.
With the philosophy that “I’m not going to get better if I’m bowling in the nets,” he’s making the most of opportunities to play with and bowl against world class players ahead of the world tournament starting 30 May.
On Sunday, 14 April, he finished with 4/27, taking two wickets in an over twice in Chennai Super Kings’ win against Kolkata Knight Riders. It was his best figures in the IPL, and the South Africa leg-spinner credited MS Dhoni, his captain at Chennai, for helping him with strategies, including setting up the wicket of the in-form Andre Russell.
Tahir first reduced the opposition from 79/1 to 80/3, and then, when Chris Lynn was in great touch, he returned to dismiss him and Russell in the space of five balls to deny Kolkata a chance to hit out at the death. All on a pitch that held little assistance for spinners.
Russell’s wicket was especially well executed. Having got hit for a four and a six, the spinner responded with a flatter one and changed his pace. “I could’ve bowled two more dot balls to him, bowl one dot ball and give him one, but I wanted to be in the challenge,” said Tahir. “I wanted to get him out, as simple as that.”
Revealing the Dhoni hand in his planning, he said, “I bowled according to how the captain wanted me to bowl. It always is beneficial taking advice from Mr Dhoni. He’s been helping me a lot this season. Credit goes to him than me.
“It’s the small things. It’s not like I had a five-minute meeting with him. He comes to me and tells me, ‘this guy looks to hit there, you must not bowl there’. I don’t think like that, because I’m an attacking spinner.”
Tahir has announced that he will retire after the World Cup. But with performances such as this, even at the age of 40, there’s the temptation to wonder if he could go on. He said that although he’d love to play on, he felt that it was important to give opportunities to youngsters, keeping the future in mind.
“I want to [play on]! I don’t want to retire! I love the game, I have respect for the game and passion for the game,” he said. “[But] there is no other World Cup for me.”