Tahir rested from Proteas ODI squad against Sri Lanka

Capetown: South Africa leg-spinner Imran Tahir has been rested ahead of five-match one-day international series against Sri Lanka starting next month.

The decision taken is a deliberate one as South Africa are exploring its slow bowling options for next year’s World Cup tournament. In the newly-announced squad, selectors have given chance to young left-arm spinners like Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj to assess their abilities that might be utilized for bigger tournaments.

“We have taken the strategic decision to rest Imran Tahir so that we can get a clearer picture as to who our best second spinner is to back him up at the World Cup,” ESPNcricinfo quoted South Africa’s convener of selectors, Linda Zondi, as saying.

“Imran will be our first- choice spinner at the World Cup but, if we play him against Sri Lanka, it is unlikely that we will be able to play both Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj. By taking this route, we will be able to play the two of them together,” Zondi added.

Shamsi holds a terrific domestic cricket record and was rewarded with domestic one-day and T20 cricketer of the year award at Cricket South Africa’s annual award ceremony. Maharaj, on the other hand, is way behind Shamsi, having played only two ODIs so far but selectors are eager to see him perform in the international series.

As far as the batting department is concerned, a big void has been created in the middle order after the retirement of AB de Villiers. Players like Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen and Aiden Markram are top contenders for fitting into de Villiers’ shoes.

Proteas will take on Sri Lanka in a series consisting of five ODIs and one T20I, starting July 12.