South Africa has added uncapped left-arm spinner and lower order batsman Keshav Maharaj in their squad for the Test series against Australia starting next month. The Durban-born Maharaj has made great strides in South Africa’s domestic circuit, and now will be looking to make his mark in Tests against Australia. Here are a few interesting facts about the 26-year old cricketer of Indian origin.
His full-name is Keshav Athmanand Maharaj. He gets his middle name from his father, Athmanand Maharaj.
Maharaj made his first-class debut at the tender age of 16 years and 268 days for Kwazulu-Natal in the 2006-07 domestic season.
In his first class career, Maharaj has taken 267 wickets since his debut which is the highest for any left-arm spinner in South Africa.
Maharaj was also selected to tour Bangladesh with the South Africa Academy in 2010, where he grabbed 13 wickets in two four-day games against Bangladesh Cricket Board Academy. In one of the T20 matches during the tour, he took 4 for 12 off four overs while opening the bowling.
Maharaj is also an extremely handy batsman lower down the order and has already scored 2 hundreds and 7 fifties at an average of 22.86 the first class level. His best season with the bat was in 2012-13, where he made 481 runs at an average of 48.10.
He has been playing with Dolphins since 2009, the franchise team from KwaZulu-Natal province. In the last two seasons for them, he bagged 53 wickets for Dolphins, which is the highest by a bowler in South Africa.
Maharaj also played for Cuckfield in the Sussex Premier League in 2013, and for Nielson in the Lancashire League for 2015.
In the very first game of the 2016-17 season against Warriors, Maharaj took 13 for 157 and scored 72 coming in at number 9. Out of 13 wickets in that game, he took 7 in the first innings, a first for him in domestic cricket.
As far as his personal life is concerned, Maharaj is a religious person, who takes part in daily prayers at home. Apart from cricket, he loves football. Maharaj is also an author and a brilliant cook , who has also written a cookery book. His favorite cuisine is butter chicken with tandoori roti.
Maharaj has been drafted in the side alongside another spinner, Tabraiz Shamsi. Faf du Plessis will be leading the side in the absence of the injured Ab de Villiers.
The South African selectors were optimistic about the uncapped spinners performing well against Australia. “Basically, we are following a horses for courses policy as we feel that spinners who turn the ball away from the right-hander are going to be particularly useful under Australian conditions and against the Test batsmen we are likely to face,” selector Linda Zondi said in a statement.
“I am excited about the cover we have in this area with a wrist spinner and a left-arm orthodox spinner with JP Duminy able to offer the right-arm variety as well.”
The Australia-South Africa Test series begins from November 3 at the famous WACA.