LONDON: Imran Tahir admitted it was hard to keep his emotions in check as the leg-spinner made his 100th one-day international appearance in Sunday’s World Cup clash against Bangladesh.
Tahir is only the second specialist spinner after Nicky Boje to reach a century of ODI caps for the Proteas.
The 40-year-old is the oldest player in this edition of the World Cup and reaching the landmark of 100 matches was an emotional moment for him.
Tahir was born in Lahore but moved permanently from his native Pakistan, via a spell in Britain, after meeting his wife Sumayya during the 1998 Under-19 World Cup in South Africa.
– ‘Amazing journey’ –
“It feels really special. If I look back I played my first game at the 2011 World Cup, it has been an amazing journey,” Tahir said ahead of the match.
“I always dreamt about it but I never thought I would be here one day playing in my 100th game for South Africa.
“It is an absolute honour to have been given the opportunity by Cricket South Africa and the lovely people from South Africa, I am grateful to everybody.”
Tahir has been a spearhead of the Proteas’ attack since making his debut at the 2011 Cricket World Cup, with a career tally of 164 wickets at a strike-rate of 31.
At 40 years and 64 days, he became the oldest South African to play in a World Cup match during their opening match defeat against England on Thursday.
“This means a lot to me, I could never express this in words. I am a guy who has come through a lot of hardships, I lost my parents without them seeing me play international cricket,” he said.
“This is special to me, especially for my family. I haven’t seen my brother and sister for the last two years but they understand that this game I am playing is important to me.
“If I look back I am proud. I dreamt of this but never thought I would play with the legends and youngsters in this team.”
Tahir has re-written the records books on a number of occasions throughout his career.
He holds the record for the best ODI bowling figures for South Africa (seven for 45), is the fastest South African bowler to 100 wickets.
And this week Tahir became the first spinner to bowl the first over of a World Cup match, striking second ball to dismiss England’s Jonny Bairstow — a wicket that prompted his familiar semi-circle run in celebration.
“I am the kind of guy who likes challenges. I like to think that my captain can give me the ball in any situation and I will be the first guy to say yes,” he added.
“I am fully prepared and will be ready to bowl in any situation.”