Pakistan-born Imran Tahir honoured to play for South Africa

Imran Tahir (centre) took five wickets against Pakistan in the first innings of the second Test © AFP

Dubai: Oct 23, 2013

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir on Wednesday said he was more of a South African than the country of his own birth and felt honoured at playing for the world’s best Test team.

The 34-year-old, who changed  allegiance after being brought up in Pakistan, grabbed a career best five for 32 on the opening day of the second Test, which his team needs to win to level the two-Test series.

His excellent effort played the major role in seeing Pakistan bowled out for 99 and at the close South Africa were 128 for three, leading by 29 runs.

Asked about how he felt about playing against the country of his birth, Tahir said: “I just think I am more South African than Pakistani.

“I am really honoured to play for South Africa, there was nothing in my mind before I started this game and I appreciate what I have got from South Africa and will always remember that till the day I die.”

Tahir, who also played for English counties Hampshire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire, married a South African girl and qualified to play for them in 2011.

“Because the opportunities I have got and I have met so many nice people and the country never gone to forget me,” said Tahir of his adopted country and people.

Tahir said it was tough to return to the test arena after the thrashing he took in his last Test at Adelaide last year.

“After my last performance I had to go back and work on myself, my bowling and everything on how I am going to cope with in international cricket.

“So off season hard work has really paid off I am very grateful that it has happened today (Wednesday),” said Tahir, who had figures of none for 260 in his last Test.

“I had a great time in Australia being part of a Test match but from there on I had to work out how I need to be at international level. So I went back and played domestic season and I did well and worked hard off seaon and when I joined the team I have been working hard.”

Tahir said the Dubai pitch has spin and will turn more.

“The wicket is good it is the first day of the Test match and I think there is a little bit for the spinners,” said Tahir.

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