London: Jul 15, 2012
Victory of any sort in the three-match series will see the tourists replace England as the world's top-ranked Test side and in Pakistan-born leg-spinner Tahir, a naturalised South African, they could have a trump card.
The 33-year-old, who has played for four English counties, notably Hampshire, took four for 31 as South Africa dismissed Kent for 210 on the first day of their three-day warm-up game at Canterbury, south-east of London, on Friday.
"I'm confident when my time comes; I'm really up for it," said Tahir, whose 18 wickets in seven Tests to date have come at an average of 37.05 apiece.
"I've played one game at The Oval, and it turns a lot -- especially in the second innings -- so I'm looking forward to it."
But while he has confounded plenty of county batsmen, Tahir expects a tougher challenge against England's premier batsmen.
"I've got the variations, but it depends on how I use them," he said.
"They are good players, so I need to wait for the right time, and I hope I'll get a reward for that. It's going to be a good challenge for me."
But while Tahir could look forward to the first Test, South Africa lost another player in the first week of their tour through injury on Friday.
Fast bowler Marchant de Lange suffered a lower back problem during the Twenty20 tri-series in Zimbabwe last month and has not recovered. He will be replaced by Albie Morkel.
Unlike veteran wicket-keeper Mark Boucher, who sustained an international career-ending eye injury on Tuesday, de Lange was not a first-choice player and was only expected to feature in the Tests if one out of seam trio Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander or Morne Morkel were sidelined.
"Marchant has been diagnosed with a lower-back stress fracture and will require at least six weeks rest and rehabilitation," said South Africa physiotherapist Brandon Jackson. (AFP)