Durban – Imran Tahir is as important to the attack as Dale Steyn, Twenty20 captain Faf du Plessis said ahead of South Africa's clash against Australia in Durban on Wednesday.
"Imi is very important to me. He's as big a strike bowler as a Dale Steyn is to our team and the success of Imran Tahir in the World Cup is going to hugely determine how well we do," Du Plessis said on Tuesday.
With rain forecast for the Kingsmead clash – after the washed-out opening match in Port Elizabeth – Du Plessis was looking towards the forthcoming T20 World Cup in Bangladesh which starts on Sunday.
"He does really well in those conditions and us as a team back him completely. I understand he's a game changer and I also understand what comes with that. Imran is never a guy that needs to bowl and keep the run rate down for you.
"He's a wicket-taker and you need to get the best out of him, bowl him in situations where we looking to get wickets."
Pakistan-born Tahir has enjoyed a far more successful limited-overs career with South Africa than his Test cricket, taking seven wickets in his six T20s at an economy rate of 5.19 since his debut a little over seven months ago.
His one-day international stats are just as impressive with 26 wickets in 13 games.
"He's done fantastically for us over the last 12 months and will be extremely important going to Bangladesh," Du Plessis said.
The three-match series moves to Centurion after Wednesday's game, before the Proteas head to the global spectacle where they are scheduled to open their account against in Chittagong on March 22.
Du Plessis felt his third-ranked team were more than ready for the tournament, although he hoped the weather would clear enough to play.
"As we are now, we are ready for the World Cup," he said.
"Our preparation has been fantastic. We made that little goal for ourselves that we want to be number one or number two 14 months ago and we did that.
"I think we were number six when we started the process. So we've had a great build-up and everything's running according to plan. Hopefully we can just get some game time and well be ready to go."
The Proteas are injury-free for the clash, while the tourists are likely to be without injured pair Brad Hogg and James Faulkner.
All-rounder Shane Watson said the rain was not ideal for either of the sides.
"It will be perfect to get game time, hopefully the weather stays even if it just for a couple of hours," he said.
"It's really important for us to play, as it is for the South Africans. Both sides need to get time playing together as teams." – Sapa