Sorry and a hug: Tahir and Rabada’s IPL battle is a great World Cup omen

Sorry and a hug: Tahir and Rabada’s IPL battle is a great World Cup omen

Imran Tahir during the South African national men's cricket team training session at Powerade Centre of Excellence on May 16, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

The potential benefit of the two men’s wicket-taking displays before the World Cup is obvious.

You know there’s a good spirit in the Proteas’ camp when an imposing, bulky fast bowler like Kagiso Rabada starts dishing out hugs to the spinners.

Imran Tahir chuckles when he tells what he said to South Africa’s bowling talisman upon his return from the Indian Premier League (IPL), where the veteran leggie eventually overtook Rabada as this year’s leading wicket-taker in the tournament.

“If KG had played all the games and hadn’t got injured, he was probably going to end far ahead of anyone else,” said Tahir, who ended with 26 victims in 17 matches, one ahead of Rabada, who motored to his scalps in just 12.

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“I just went up to him and said ‘sorry’. He just smiled at me and gave me a hug. He’s a world-class bowler.”

What’s more important though is that the Proteas go into the World Cup, which starts in just over a week’s time, with two players who recently took 51 wickets between them.

It emphasises the firepower at captain Faf du Plessis’ disposal.

“It doesn’t matter whether KG or I ended as the leading wicket-taker. It’s a great achievement for South African cricket,” said Tahir.

“The IPL is a top league. You play against some of the best players in the world and for us to take so many wickets going into the World Cup gives us a big confidence boost. We’re excited to continue that form.”

The Pakistani-born Tahir’s role won’t be confined to just nipping the batters out.

As a seasoned campaigner in English conditions, he’ll need to provide valuable input on any conditions the attack might encounter.

“I’ve been playing there for a long time. It will certainly help. But we’re going into a new competition, so it’s also going to be a new challenge,” said Tahir.

“At least you know what to expect. My bowling teammates and I need to go with the mindset that we still need to work hard and concentrate, get the plan right against all the teams. There are a lot of games.”

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