South Africa's premier left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj is confident that slow bowlers will play a key role on the flat deck during the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in the US in June.
The ninth edition of the T20 World Cup will be jointly hosted by the West Indies and the US from June 1 to 29 this year.
“Spinners will play an important role in the upcoming T20 World Cup. Wickets are getting better and boundaries are getting shorter. There is a great need for a spinner to provide control and variety in the team,” he told PTI in an exclusive interview.
“Hopefully these T20 platforms can give spinners an even bigger role for players coming onto the international stage,” he said.
The left-arm orthodox spinner, who took 14 wickets in nine matches at an impressive economy rate of 4.37 including four against New Zealand in the ODI World Cup in India last year, is a vital cog in the South African team.
The 34-year-old player feels that the main recipe for his success is to become a “street smart” cricketer. And he now wants to guide the next generation of slow left-arm orthodox bowlers in the South African team.
“To be successful in T20 as a left-arm spinner you have to be street smart. Do your homework. There needs to be a left hand or right hand or finger spinner to complement each other.
Maharaj said, “If I can help the youngsters in this art of finger spin, I am sure they will get some kind of inspiration to continue it and progress at higher levels in international cricket.”
Maharaj, a key member of the Proteas T20 team, believes that the shortest format is necessary for the development of the game.
“I don't have IPL experience yet but have been involved in SA20 and it's great for the game. It is really giving the fans quite a good performance. This is a good encouragement for local cricketers to rub shoulders with the best players in the world,” he said
On the personal front, apart from honing his primary craft, he is also working on his batting skills.
“I am also working on my power-hitting because I know I have that ability. I hope that I will perform well in both batting and bowling in the near future.
A true devotee of Lord Ram, Maharaj loves the devotional tune 'Ram Siya Ram' played from the stadium's sound box every time he goes out to bat. He has made this request to all the stadium DJs.
During a recent Test match against India in Cape Town, when the song was playing, Virat Kohli stood with folded hands and looked as if he had pulled the string of a bow. This video had gone viral on social media.
He appreciated the consecration ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya and expressed hope that he would visit the holy place during his next visit to India.
“I come from a very religious and spiritual family where religion and spirituality were taught to me but never imposed. I just felt that it gave me guidance and perspective on life in difficult situations. I practice faith and am very connected to my religion and spirituality,” said the Durban-born cricketer.
“I celebrate all Hindu festivals at home. Whatever your faith, I send the message, it is important to have some faith in life,” said Maharaj, who shared a special message on social media on January 22, the Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha Day in Ayodhya.
Maharaj's great grandfather was from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh and had moved to Durban as an indentured laborer in 1874.
“I am a very staunch devotee of Lord Ram and being so big is something special. “That doesn't happen in many places around the world so I was really excited that it happened,” he said.
“I am sure if I come to India in the near future and if I get time, I would love to visit Ayodhya,” said the captain of Durban Supergiants, Lucknow Supergiants' associate franchise in the South Africa T20 League.