Playing without pressure key to Proteas’ World Cup run – Shamsi

South Africa’s Tabraiz Shamsi was the Player of the Match against the West Indies in a tense victory. | AFP

South Africa’s Tabraiz Shamsi was the Player of the Match against the West Indies in a tense victory. | AFP

Published Jun 25, 2024


Zaahier Adams

Tabraiz Shamsi has never been shy to express himself. Whether that’s on the field through his trademark celebrations or on social media.

Now the Proteas wrist-spinner has hit back at his critics after his match-winning performance against co-hosts, the West Indies, powered Aiden Markram’s team to their first ICC Men’s T20 World Cup semi-final since 2014.

After an indifferent display against the US, where he conceded 1/50, Shamsi spun a web around the Windies with a spell-binding 3/28.

“It’s just a little bit ridiculous when it’s ex-players – when they’re on the field they did the same things; now we’re trying our best so that’s part of the game right, we got to go out there and do our job. And as cricketers we know sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Shamsi said after the Proteas’ tense three-wicket victory.

“Whatever the guys speak about behind the scenes in our change room, that’s all that matters. And look, you got to turn up and try your best. The next day maybe I might go for 50 again in the next game, maybe I might be Man of the Match again, nobody knows.”

Shamsi was a key figure in restricting the Windies to 135/8, maintaining a stranglehold on the Caribbean batters which he has enjoyed for a period of time. The wrist-spinner credited this to his time playing in the Caribbean Premier League.

“Fortunately, I’ve been able to play CPL for the last five or six years. And one thing with the West Indian boys, you don’t have to guess what their intent is going to be,” Shamsi said.

“So, it sort of helps you formulate a plan or expect what you’re going to be coming up against and then it’s just about trying to utilise the different variations you have and when to bowl it to which batter.

“Everything sort of goes into slow motion when you’re out there in the middle. You don’t hear the crowd or anything – it’s just about doing the job for the team in the moment. At times the captain would ask me to strike or at times he just asked me to bowl a tight over – so just about trying to do that as best as I could.”

Shamsi also paid tribute to his captain Aiden Markram’s spell of 1/28 with his part-time off-spin setting the tone up front. It also included the big wicket of the explosive Nicholas Pooran.

“I actually always think he under-bowls himself – whenever he’s captain he bowls less – because he is a wonderful bowler,” he said.

“I think he’s a lot better than a part-timer so it was nice as a captain he saw that there was something in it for him and he ran with it and he bowled all four overs.

“So that’s the one thing that’s nice about our unit. If you look at the squad, there isn’t any individual that you can pick and say like, hey, this guy is responsible for making this team win. There’s no pressure on any one individual.

“We just have a lot of match winners within the squad and on each day, someone finds a way to pull the game towards the team.

“I think that’s what’s making the guys play without any pressure because we all know we have the ability to win the games but there’s no pressure on any individual to actually do it, otherwise we’re in trouble.

“So yeah, it was really nice to see Aiden doing what he did. When you see another spinner taking wickets, it gives you confidence as well to know that when it’s your turn, there’ll be something in it for you.”

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