Leg-spinners bring excitement in T20: Tahir

DD spinner also talks about his first IPL experience and describes KP, the person

Bengaluru 14 May 2014
When playing for South Africa, Imran Tahir is easy to spot. A streak of highlighted hair, delightfully innocent wicket celebrations and the fact that he is a leg-spinner! In the Delhi Daredevils camp, he gets the best of both worlds. In Gary Kirsten, JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock, Tahir has his mates from back home. And owing to his Pakistani heritage, he is at home with the Indian boys, conversing with them in fluent Hindi.

The only thing Tahir would like to change about his first IPL experience is his team’s results. But even in the tough times, he is soaking in all that the tournament has to offer, he said during his conversation with after DD’s 16-run loss to RCB in Bengaluru.

Tahir also told us what it means to be a leg-spinner in the T20 format and described Kevin Pietersen, the man and the player.

How has this IPL experience been for you so far?

It has been fantastic. I knew before I came here that it is going to be a huge challenge. I got a bit of a pounding today but hats off to Yuvraj; he played an unbelievable knock.

When you first set foot in the DD room, what was it like?

What struck me first in that change room was how positive the vibe was. The team is struggling with the results and it has been very hard on everyone in there because things haven’t gone the way they were planned. But yet there is so much positivity in there.

Did the presence of Gary Kirsten and a couple of your other South African mates like Duminy and de Kock make it easier for you to settle into the new team?

It did but I had one more advantage. Since I speak Hindi, the cultural and linguistic barrier with the Indian boys was instantly broken. On their part, everyone in the team made me feel welcomed and that made my life very easy.

How did this contract happen?

It happened very quickly. My wife and I recently had a baby boy, Gibraan, and I was changing nappies at home. But then Nathan Coulter-Nile got injured and I was told I might get the opportunity to come here and play for the Delhi Daredevils. And here I am. I want to play for my baby boy because he is the lucky charm.

This IPL has been a season of the Indian leg-spinners. Have you watched many of them? Any favourites?

I thought the young guy we played against today (Yuzverndra Chahal) is really good. I think he has got very good control over his deliveries and although the wicket didn’t help the leg-spinners today, he showed how special he is by foxing a great batsman like Kevin Pietersen with turn and getting him stumped.

As a leg-spinner yourself, do you think you guys are a gamble for captains in the T20 format?

Having a leggie in his team will excite any captain, although you wouldn’t want one in your side on a wicket like this one. But overall, they are an exciting option for the captain because they give you variations, can change the game quickly and are not loath to trying out different things despite the risk of being hit. Chahal, for example, went for runs today but he got Pietersen out with that beauty. That’s the excitement a leg-spinner brings to the game.

Do you have to make extra effort to not get disheartened when hit for a few in this format and let your bowling get flat?

We always have to remind ourselves that we cannot afford to be disheartened. We need to stay positive and continue doing what we do best.

How is Kevin Pietersen as a man and a captain?

I really think he is a wonderful guy, and I am not saying this because he is the captain. I know him since the days I played with him in South Africa and I can say that he is a very easy going guy. I can discuss anything with him. He is one of the main reasons why the Daredevils camp is so positive despite not winning games and everyone is grateful for that. To boot all that, he is a great player too.
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