Imran Tahir is the fastest South Africa bowler to take 100 wickets in ODIs. (Image credit: Twitter)
Imran Tahir has been a vital cog for South Africa in the limited overs format. The legspinner, who was born in Pakistan but migrated to South Africa, played a wonderful role in South Africa's thumping win over Sri Lanka in the first ODI in Johannesburg. Tahir's 3/26 underlined his value and how vital he will be for the South Africa cricket team in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 which will be held in England and Wales from May 30. However, in a surprise move, Tahir announced that he would retire from the ODI format after the end of the tournament but stressed that he would be available to play Twenty20 Internationals for South Africa with an eye on the 2020 World T20 which will be held in Australia. In a statement released by Cricket South Africa, Tahir spoke about his future after the end of the World Cup.
"I have always wanted to play in the World Cup. I have a mutual understanding with Cricket South Africa and going forward I decided that I would finish at the World Cup, that is why I am contracted until then. After that, Cricket South Africa has allowed me to go and play around the world in various leagues but I would also love to play T20 cricket for South Africa," Tahir said. His performance drew attention to the fact that he was not on the list of contracted players for the 2019/20 year released by Cricket South Africa last week. But he revealed on Monday that he had reached an agreement with CSA for his contract to expire at the end of July, extending his 2018/19 contract by three months.
Tahir has been part of four ICC World events and he has made a mark for South Africa. He featured in the 2011 and 2015 World Cup while he also played in the 2014 and 2016 World T20 tournament. In the 2015 World Cup encounter against the West Indies in Sydney, Tahir's haul of 5/45 gave South Africa a massive 257-run victory after AB de Villiers had smashed the fastest 150 in ODIs.
Tahir also took 7/45 during the tri-series tournament game against the West Indies in St Kitts in 2016. The haul was not only the best by a South African bowler in ODIs but he also became the fastest Proteas bowler to take 100 wickets, achieving it in just 58 games and bettering the record set by Morne Morkel who took it in 59 matches.
The legspinner, who will turn 40 next month, said retiring from one-day internationals was a difficult decision. "I would love to play for as long as I can. But there is a stage in your life where you have to make big decisions," Tahir said.
Tahir, who played under MS Dhoni for the Rising Pune Supergiants franchise in the IPL, will be aiming to bow out on a high in the final international series at home against Sri Lanka before the World Cup. South Africa are currently leading the five-match series 1-0 and will be aiming to extend their advantage in the second ODI which will be played at Centurion Park on March 6.