It’s a special moment for Imran Tahir, the South African legspinner, returning to the city of his birth as a member of the World XI squad to take on Pakistan in a three-match Twenty20 International series in Lahore, beginning on Tuesday (September 12).
He grew up in Lahore, and was instrumental in convincing some of the World XI players to tour Pakistan to revive international cricket in the country.
Tahir revealed that his feedback on the security situation in Pakistan helped. “All of the players asked me and, being a local, I told them very positive things because I have been coming here to meet my family and I have come to see them every year, ” said Tahir on the eve of the first T20I between Pakistan and World XI in Lahore.
“I think my answers to their questions convinced them and they have come, so thanks to them that they believed me. We have come here with a positive mind and will go positively,” said Tahir, one of five South African players in World XI, led by Faf du Plessis.
Tahir, 38, who played first-class cricket in Lahore until 2006 before migrating to South Africa, had mixed feelings about coming back to Pakistan.
“It’s kind of a mixed feeling,” said Tahir. “It’s very hard to explain … the players whom I grew up with, and now coming back in a way which I really don’t know. When I was growing up I always wanted to play for Pakistan, and it’s my home town and home ground. So it’s kind of a mixed feeling, but I am very proud and very happy of where I am in my career.
“I am thankful to Cricket South Africa for giving me the opportunity to fulfil my dream and I am just really proud of what I have been doing. It’s nice to be here for a good cause. That’s the only thing I can say. It was very positive when I was told that these three matches could happen and probably I was the first one who said that I would love to go.”
Tahir felt that, security-wise, there would be no problems during the series. “I will be honest with you: If there is an issue I can’t see it. I don’t know, probably I am a local and grew up here so I think different from others, but for me it’s absolutely fine. We are here and had a practice session and probably I will be saying after a few days that we had three fantastic games.
“I can’t see any problems. What I see and what I am hearing … there are positive vibe about this thing. We, as a team, are looking forward to these matches. I supported this cause and actually encouraged people to support this cause. I think this is a brilliant thing — cricket coming back to Pakistan — so it’s probably a proud moment for everyone, including me.”
The other two T20Is will be in Lahore on Wednesday and Friday.