Imran Tahir picks South Africa's best ever wicket haul in ODIs
Imran Tahir wrote his name into the record books as he delivered the best bowling figures by a South African in One Day Internationals in the match against West Indies at Warner Park, Basseterre. The leg-spinner took 7 wickets for 45 runs and helped South Africa register their second win of the Tri Series, going past teammate Kagiso Rabada’s 6/16 that came last year against Bangladesh. The Lahore-born South African cricketer also reached the milestone of 100 ODI wickets en route to his incredible feat in the game.
Defending a massive 343, the new ball bowlers were getting some stick from the West Indian opening pair of Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher when Imran Tahir was pressed into action by skipper AB de Villiers in the 6th over of the chase. And the trick of throwing a leg spinner in front of two batsmen going hammer and tongs paid off. Andre Fletcher was the first to fall prey to the wily Tahir, trying to slog the leggie on the leg side only to find a diving Behardien pull off a brilliant catch at deep midwicket. Fellow spinner Tabraiz Shamsi also got into the act and prised out the other opener Johnson to halt West Indies’ chase.
Imran Tahir then returned to get the man of the match of the last game Marlon Samuels to edge one to the wicketkeeper. The fact that the wicket came right after the spinner was hit for a six over his head by the batsmen and that it marked the spinner’s 100th ODI wicket meant that Tahir took off for his typical celebration even faster. The leggie, playing in his 58th ODI for the Proteas, became the fourth fastest bowler in the world and the fastest South African to reach the 100 wicket mark, overtaking Morne Morkel, who took 59 matches to achieve the feat.
The veteran then produced a magical over when he took three wickets to effectively kill the chase. All the big hitters who could have provided a late surge in the chase, Carlos Braithwaite, Jason Holder and Kieron Pollard fell in the same over to the leggie. The captain fell trying to reverse sweep, while Braithwaite went for a first-ball duck to a beautiful googly. Pollard, seeing that there wasn’t a lot left in the game with required run rate increasing exponentially, followed the two on the last ball of the over.
Tahir then came back to clean up the tail as he picked up Sulieman Benn and Jerome Taylor to finish with career-best figures of 7-45 and the West Indian innings on 204. An overjoyed Tahir admitted in the presentation ceremony that he didn’t have any idea about becoming the fastest to 100 wickets for South Africa.
Tahir said “I am really pleased and my wife rang me and reminded me about the record [fastest South African to 100 ODI wickets]. I didn't know of it in the first place.” Tahir was also full of praise for Shamsi, who picked up 2 scalps with his chinaman. Tahir added, “Shamsi bowled well and we were in the game most of the time. Shamsi is a great talent and is like a brother to me.”
The bowler who could make his debut only at the age of 31 for South Africa took his tally of wickets against West Indies to an astonishing 26 in just 7 matches. Tahir’s career best figures helped South Africa win with a bonus point. The 37-year-old had wowed the world with his leg-spin when he picked up 4 wickets on his debut against West Indies in the 2011 World Cup played in India. In their 2015 World Cup tie in Sydney, Tahir shone again with the ball and picked up his first fifer in ODIs.year.