Impatience is a virtue for Tahir
Imran Tahir celebrates after dismissing Thirimanne (41). Tahir took four wickets for 26 runs. Overall, SA’s spinners took seven wickets, with JP Duminy (not in the picture) claiming a late hat-trick. (Source: Reuters)
Someone has just defended a ball from Imran Tahir. The camera zooms to his face and there is this hilarious expression of bewilderment as if he has been betrayed. How did that meet the middle of the bat? Wasn’t it supposed to take the edge? How can this game be so cruel to me? Can I just take a wicket every ball and run away on my mad sprint to nowhere, please?
Tahir ran away with the game on Wednesday at the SCG. His face contorted into pain, which is bliss actually, at every near-miss, his hands were ready to spring up in appeal, he was half-turning towards the umpire to let out his pleading cry of an appeal, and his eyes darted here and there with feverish excitement.
This intensely emotional energy that he puts in each of his delivery is a reason why he isn’t a good Test bowler. It’s also the reason why he is a good ODI bowler. In Tests, he is a bowler who gets drained out quickly and can be very impatient. In ODIs, that impatience actually seems to help him. A googly comes, a quicker one follows, a slower legbreak lands, a quickish legbreak that doesn’t turn much is next and then back to the googly.
It’s a testament to his skill that he has this incredible 4.38 economy rate in this era of 300+ targets. This adventurous cocktail of this and that in a frenetic mix has been working for him in the ODIs. It worked like a charm against Sri Lankans.
The pitch did help. There was something in it for Tahir – the ball spun a bit and held up a touch and it was enough for him to create panic in Sri Lankan line-up. When Lahiru Thirimanne stabbed a delivery that held up a touch on him for a return catch to Imran Tahir, memories of Mohammad Azharuddin falling in that Eden Gardens semi-final of 1996 flooded in. It was almost a similar dismissal and a thought popped up immediately: around 240-250 can be a good score for Sri Lankan spinners to harass South Africa.
Sri Lanka were 69 for 3 in the 20th over then, and Jayawardene and Sangakkara were in the middle and it seemed that at least Sangakkara knew what was a good score on this pitch. He was playing cautiously, pushing the ball quietly after the openers had fallen to the seamers early, and seemed to be ready for the waiting game. Jayawardene, though, wasn’t in nick and certainly not ready for Tahir.
Tahir threw in all his repertoire quickly at Jayawardene who prodded and pushed around. The googly came, and Tahir’s doesn’t cloak it with any great deception but Jayawardene had already planted his front foot and seemed in a trance as the ball hit him probably just outside off stump. It was a close call, the DRS didn’t help South Africa and it was the end of that over. At the next opportunity, Tahir ripped a quicker one and it skidded on rapidly at Mahela who couldn’t control his pull. From there, everything went pear-shaped for Sri Lanka and Sangakkara was left watching his team-mates desert him.
Everything happened so quickly that JP Duminy’s hat-trick didn’t even register. The lower order collapsed meekly and Sangakkara too couldn’t do much. Game over.
It said much about state of the Sri Lankan mind in this quarter-final that they lost on a track that was so much in their favour. It also said something about South Africans’ skill that they crushed Sri Lanka on this Sydney pitch. It helped that they were led by this dervish legspinner, with this fascinating ability to turn his impatience into a great strength in the ODIs.
Source:: Indian Express