South Africa spinner Keshav Maharaj is on cloud nine after the recent few happenings in his professional career. Not so long ago, he picked up a hat-trick in Test cricket and has also proved his mettle in the 50-over format.
Recently, Maharaj was named in South Africa’s 15-member squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup, despite not playing a single T20I game until his selection. The Proteas management stated that Maharaj’s inclusion in the outfit provides the team with both spin and leadership advantage.
“Kesh is an excellent leader. He has the backing of the team and us as a Panel. He has more than proven his leadership skills in the Dolphins set up and reinforced our good decision during the ODI series against Sri Lanka, which ended on Tuesday,” CSA Convenor of Selectors, Victor Mpitsang had said while announcing the Proteas squad as quoted by SuperSport.
Just a day after the squad announcement, Maharaj played his first T20I match for South Africa and impressed one and all with his incredible bowling performance.
The Durban-lad bowled outstandingly well on his T20I debut against Sri Lanka, conceding only 19 runs in his quota of 4 overs while picking up a wicket on the very first ball of his spell. Notably, Maharaj was also leading the side, and South Africa went on to register a victory in the series opener.
Defending 163/5, the visitors restricted Sri Lanka at 135/6 in their allotted 20 overs, winning the contest by 28 runs. After the match, Maharaj expressed his happiness, stating that he always wanted to play the shortest format for his nation.
“Very happy, brilliant performance all around. I have always wanted to play T20 cricket. I might be 31, but I feel like I’m 21. Just trying to do my bit and get my place in that World Cup starting XI,” said the left-armer in the post-match presentation on Friday.
Maharaj also added that he has always looked up to Indian legends Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid in order to become an international cricketer. He termed Dravid as a ‘gentleman’ of the game.
“I always looked up to Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. I have tried to emulate myself on Dravid, he’s been such a gentleman. He went under Sachin’s radar and has been such a great of the game,” added Maharaj.