Being a spinner in South Africa is arguably one of the most challenging routes to embark upon. The hard and bouncy surfaces in the country have enabled countless seamers to thrive, but when it comes to spinners, it has been one short stint after the other.
Keshav Maharaj has emerged to be one of the most pivotal members of the Proteas unit in the longest format of the game and his contributions have now etched a place in history as well with a historic hattrick against West Indies in the second test of the series.
Plucking the wickets of Kieran Powell, Jason Holder, and Joshua de Silva in three straight deliveries and ultimately walked away with a much deserved five-wicket haul in the end. The left-arm spinner’s impressive outing capped off a mammoth 158-run victory for South Africa, who take the series 2-0.
Chasing a mammoth 323 for the win in the fourth innings, West Indies were poised at 107-3 with Powell compiling a composed fifty. Maharaj struck as Powell holed out in the deep to Anrich Nortje. A series of sharp catches close-in gave Maharaj a hattrick and also triggered the batting collapse.
Being the first-ever spinner to take a hattrick for South Africa, Maharaj spoke about the hardships of being a spinner in South Africa and how the mindset has changed with the team giving the department importance.
“It’s obviously hard being a spinner. And luckily enough, the mindset has changed towards spin bowling in the country. But if I can be a catalyst in a way then I’m doing half my job. Apart from trying to put in performances, I think it’s important to make sure that we set new examples to the younger spinners out there, who eventually will play Test cricket and International cricket, that there is a future for spin bowling in our country. We have got a good Captain and obviously a good coach to support spin bowling and always see an asset. It’s always good to have that sort of support structure behind you.” he said
Watch the hattrick right here
With the South Africa cricket board currently going through a turbulent time right from a financial and structural point of view, they are looking to head in a different direction. With the all-important T20 World Cup coming up at the end of the year, the 31-year-old hopes that the team moves forward taking confidence from their comfortable test series win.
To be honest, I didn’t even know the last Test series that we won away from home was in 2017, if I’m not mistaken. But yeah, it’s really good. I’m sure you’ve been hearing in the media that this team wants to move in a different direction. And obviously, this was the first obstacle that we had to overcome. So, it’s really good from a team morale point of view and a confidence point of view. However, we are going back to the drawing board, not taking it for granted. You know, the boys will celebrate the series win, which is really important to go in the right direction.” He adds, “So, it’s important that we keep taking care of the series and be ruthless in our performances. That’s where this team wants to head. So, really important for us as a team going forward.” he added
South Africa have had a rough time as of late when it comes to ICC tournaments. They finished seventh in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, and failed to make it past the group stages in the 2017 Champions Trophy and the 2016 T20 World Cup.
The Proteas will now face the Windies in a 5 match T20 series in a bid to prepare for the T20 World Cup, which is being held after 5 long years.
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