TURNING THE TIDE: Imran Tahir. Photo: GERHARD DURAAN/BACKPAGEPIX

Proteas spin bowler Imran Tahir can be a real threat at next year’s World Cup as a new-ball bowler.

Tahir showed what he can do with the shiny ball when he bagged career-best figures of 5/23 in South Africa’s 34-run T20I victory over Zimbabwe on Tuesday.

Tasked with opening the bowling as coach Ottis Gibson weighs up his options ahead of next year’s global showpiece, Tahir proved that he can be as dangerous with the new ball as he is with one that grips better after a few overs.

Of opening the bowling, Tahir says: “I’ve been practising really hard.

“It’s difficult to grip the new ball - especially with two fielders out, but I’m up for the challenge.

“I’m just happy that things are working out at the moment really well.”

They worked really well on Tuesday night, but Tahir is working towards the World Cup and wants to do even better.

He adds of his five-for: “I’m just trying to bowl wicket to wicket and try my best for the team.

“It’s a very special feeling, but it’s not about five wickets.

“I’m just really happy that I don’t take things for granted.

“Every opportunity for me is an absolute honour to play for South Africa.

“Every wicket is very special - every wicket is the same joy. I’ve been working really hard and I want to learn as much as I can about leg-spin bowling.”

Tahir will be hoping that things go his way again when the Proteas host Zimbabwe in the second T20I in Potchefstroom on Friday night.

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