Every Friday, SA Cricket magazine will be naming its MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the week. The second recipient is Imran Tahir.
While AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla were outstanding in isolation in the first and second ODI respectively, Tahir’s overall contribution earns our accolade this week.
Supported by many, but criticised by considerably more, the leg-spinner has gone a long way in silencing doubters in New Zealand. While his berth in the Test match XI remains contentious, limited-overs cricket success is serving the nation well.
The slowish nature of the Bay Oval pitch in Mount Maunganui certainly aided Tahir’s cause, but clever changes in pace and googlies substantially more threatening than yesteryear has him top of the pops in the country that will co-host February 2015’s World Cup.
The 35-year-old’s recce mission will continue in Sydney and surrounds next month, where the frequent strike rate and miserly economy achieved against the Black Caps will be promptly challenged by a power-packed Australian batting order.
He will certainly come up trumps, if Friday’s wizardry and entanglement wrapped around the oft-dominant Brendon McCullum is replicated. McCullum was totally hoodwinked by Tahir, who visibly enjoyed the task of outdoing arguably one of ODI cricket’s biggest hitters.
The Pakistan-born journeyman, who has almost played for more professional teams than Quinton de Kock has spent years on this earth, has – at the very least – kept himself in front of Aaron Phangiso in the pecking order. Little doubt, we will be seeing plenty more over-exuberant wicket celebrations and football-esque near laps of honour.