Keshav Maharaj was surprised with his swift inclusion into the Champions Trophy squad which comes only over five months after his Test debut.
The 27-year-old has made some great strides since his November debut against Australia in Perth, and was the stand-out performer in the Proteas’ tour to New Zealand. The left-arm orthodox spinner was the Man of the Match in the Proteas’ victory over the Black Caps in Wellington, and managed to take 15 wickets at an average of 19.93 in SA’s series victory.
Wellington was the deciding factor in their 1-0 win, after drawing the first and the last Test in Dunedin and Hamilton respectively.
Maharaj has taken 26 wickets in seven Test matches since his debut, including two five-wicket hauls.
‘It has been a really special last six months for me after getting my call-up to the national Test squad in November,’ Maharaj said to Sports 24.
‘My selection for the Champions Trophy came as a bit of a shock, but I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
‘I always knew that I wanted to play all three formats of the game for South Africa, but didn’t think that I would have played Test cricket and be in the national ODI squad this quickly. I am really looking forward to the challenge.’
Linda Zondi mentioned Maharaj’s batting as an asset, which played a role in his selection and with a first class record of 2 102 runs at an average of 22.84 (two centuries and seven fifties), he has proved himself quite useful with the bat in hand.
Maharaj also opened up about his time playing club cricket in England, another factor which could have played a role in his selection for the Champions Trophy.
‘I played a few seasons of club cricket in the UK and I really enjoy the conditions – except for the cold.’ said Maharaj.
‘Being selected to make my debut in a competition like the Champions Trophy makes it a little more special I think, and we would really like to win it because it has been so long.’
Although he has made the Champions Trophy squad, Maharaj will be seen as back-up to the No 1 ODI bowler, Imran Tahir, who is the first-choice spinner in the side.