Tahir elaborates on an ‘attacking’ mindset

The South Africa legspinner pointed to the purposelessness of 'hiding' after getting hit for boundaries, and said a spinner needs to have a 'bigger heart'.

Imran Tahir: 'I'm a free man. I'm pretty happy in the space I'm in.'   -  Reuters

Exuberance is his middle name and variations are his forte, but the thing >Imran Tahir prides himself on the most is his heart.

A journeyman who has plied his trade for no less than 29 teams in the wide world of cricket, the soon-to-be 37-year-old is considered among the most effective spinners in Twenty20 cricket. A minor adjustment to the over-spin imparted on his googlies and leg-spinners, and some extra zip on his sliders, have seen the Lahore-born bowler become an automatic choice in the South African XI.

Offering a peek into the psyche of a leggie, Tahir says, “It’s important to back yourself. That’s the most important thing because if you are hit for two boundaries, then you obviously try and ‘hide’. That is not the best way to go forward in cricket. You rather go with an attacking mind after you are hit for a few boundaries. That’s why you need to have a bigger heart.”

Read: >South Africa Team Preview

Tahir, who acquired a South African passport in 2011 before taking part in the 50-over World Cup that year, knows what it means to be part of a team that always flatters to deceive at global events.

Hard work

“We have been working really hard. When we go back after the World Cup, even after losing in the semifinals or quarterfinals, we will have a good peace of mind. The reason is that we have put in the hard work. I think I feel good as a South African player… This time, we are looking so far, we are looking [at] every game and we are taking it from there…” he says.

When Tahir picks up a wicket — and that’s an everyday occurrence, so to speak — he makes it a point to run to the far corners of the ground. It’s a unique way of celebrating. Does he sometimes feel embarrassed by the spectacle he ends up creating? Certainly not!

“Everything is special for me and I need to celebrate. Why not? I am not going to get an opportunity after five years. I would rather enjoy myself as such as I can because I love the game.”

For someone who has picked up 37 wickets in 23 Twenty20 Internationals at an amazing average of 16, giving away less than seven runs an over, Tahir will be expected to shoulder much of the wicket-taking responsibility on the spinner-friendly tracks at the World Twenty20.

'No pressure'

Does that mean added pressure? “I don’t think so. I can’t see any pressure on me. We have been playing cricket together for many years now. I communicate well with the captain and I am very happy. There is no (added) pressure on me. Even if I had it, I wasn’t going to tell you (smiles). I am a free man. I am pretty happy in the space I am in,” he adds.

Asked about the “craziest” thing he’s ever done, Tahir had no second thoughts. “We did shark cage diving in Cape Town. It was one of the best experiences I had. It was tough but it was lovely. I was in the cage but I didn’t see the shark. It was my first time. No dar (fear) because we were in the cage (laughs).”

Bowling legspin is, perhaps, easier.