Castle Lager Proteas spinner, Imran Tahir, is relishing the opportunity to bowl to some of the best players of spin in the upcoming ODI series against Sri Lanka. The leg-spinner says the contests in spin-friendly conditions will be a good test of his character and skill.
"Jayawardene and Sangakkara are two of the greatest players of spin in the world, and there are other very good players of spin in their squad," Tahir said from the team base in Colombo. "They obviously grew up facing spin rather than fast bowling so it will be a good challenge. I bowled against them when they were in South Africa and I did well, so I'm hoping to do the same again."
Tahir was named as Cricket South Africa's T20 player of the year after a successful debut season where he claimed 21 wickets at an average of 12.43. He was also the Proteas' most successful bowler at the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. The leg-spinner is hoping to make the same impact in the 50-over format, which he feels is a big transition from T20 cricket.
"T20 cricket is totally different to ODI cricket, especially with the five fielders in the ring," said Tahir, who made his T20I debut here last year.
"I have put in a lot of hard work and training so I'm just hoping that the debt pays me back on the field."
The 35 year-old has been in and out of the Proteas 50-overs setup since making his debut at the 2011 World Cup in India, but is beginning to establish himself across all three formats with consistent performances this past season.
"I have always been really confident, but maybe in the past I wasn't sure where I stood in the team," he admitted. "At the moment I am playing T20's, ODI's and Tests so that automatically gives me good confidence about myself. Hopefully I can justify my role in the team."
Jacques Kallis update
Jacques Kallis has responded well to treatment and batted comfortably during training this afternoon. He will go through a precautionary bowling test on Saturday to determine his availability for the first ODI on Sunday.