What’s the story?
All eyes will be on Imran Tahir when Rising Pune Supergiant take on Delhi Daredevils on Tuesday in the 9th match of IPL 2017. The South African leg-spinner was released by Delhi after rarely featuring in their 2016 team, but he has been quick to make an impact for Pune.
Tahir has been keen to play down the showdown, striking a decidedly modest tone.
“It will be more challenging for myself facing them. They know my game as much I know theirs after doing so much bowling in the nets,” Tahir said in an interview to Sportstarlive.
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After being released by Delhi, Tahir initially went unsold at the 2017 IPL Auction, which was slightly baffling. However, an opportunity presented itself when Mitchell Marsh was ruled out, and he has been quick to take his chance.
Tahir has a reputation for keeping it tight in T20, with a career economy rate of just 6.95, and 178 wickets from his 150 games. He has proven more expensive in his IPL career, going at 8.46 an over, but with a more commendable wicket-taking rate, with 34 from 22 games.
The Supergiant franchise has split their first two games. However Tahir has been on the mark in both, picking up three wickets in their victory over Mumbai Indians and two in a losing cause against Kings XI Punjab – backing up his bullish pre-season claim that he had ‘come to perform’ and prove a point after going unsold.
Meanwhile, Delhi’s only outing so far in this year’s IPL came against Royal Challengers Bangalore last Saturday, where they capitulated late on in front of the Chinnaswamy crowd. Eight overs of RCB spin claimed five Daredevils wickets – two each for Pawan Negi and Iqbal Abdulla, and one for Yuzvendra Chahal – highlighting their potential vulnerability against Tahir.
Pune will take to the field for their third match of the season against Delhi, who’ve played just once, at 20:00 IST. In the first two games they have opted to utilise Tahir towards the end of the powerplay, before bringing him back later in the innings.
Delhi’s reluctance to use Tahir last season was bizarre then and it could come back to bite them now. Tried and tested, the 38-year-old South African is showing no signs of decline. He has made a strong start to the 2017 season and is outperforming his Supergiant teammates, with five wickets from his first two games, just one fewer than the rest of the team combined.
He’s sure to be vital again and if the Daredevils’ outing against Bangalore is anything to go by, their batting is susceptible to spin. Tahir will surely be keen to exact some revenge on the franchise dismissive of him, and if Pune do win, he’ll probably have a big hand behind it.