Keshav Maharaj was very happy to accept Wiaan Mulder’s drinks and dinner bill after the latter’s role in helping the left-arm spinner become just the second South Africa to take a hat-trick in a Test match.
JOHANNESBURG – Keshav Maharaj was very happy to accept Wiaan Mulder’s drinks and dinner bill on Monday after the latter’s role in helping the left-arm spinner become just the second South Africa to take a hat-trick in a Test match.
“There were so many thoughts of what delivery to bowl,” Maharaj explained about what he was thinking at the top of his mark ahead of bowling the fifth ball of the 37th over. The previous two deliveries had seen him dismiss Kieran Powell – to an injudicious slog sweep – and then Jason Holder, sharply caught at short leg by Keegan Petersen.
The opportunity at achieving a hat-trick was at his finger tips. So what ball to bowl to Joshua da Silva, who was probably scrambling to find gloves and pads before dashing out to the middle?
“I just went with what had worked previously, and then it actually drifted down the legside. I probably could have bowled a much better ball, but full credit to Wiaan for plucking that catch.”
Mulder in the slip cordon has been one of the finds of the series, and standing at leg slip, he quickly got down to his right, stretched out his right hand holding onto a blinding catch.
“I think it was a superb ‘reaction catch. Whatever he wants to drink or eat tonight, it will probably be on me,” Maharaj smiled.
The hat-trick ensured there’d be no miracle fourth innings chase for the West Indies like they pulled off in Bangladesh earlier this year with South Africa securing a 2-0 series win, their first Test series win away from home for four years.
Maharaj is the first South African since Geoff Griffin at Lord’s in 1960 to take a Test hat-trick but unlike Griffin who’s match ended when he was called for ‘chucking’ all Maharaj had to worry about on Monday – besides Mulder’s drinks and food bill – was getting injured by one of his excited teammates who tackled him amidst wild celebrations.
Maharaj’s contribution is significant too, given that South Africa has often treated spinners as the bowlers to give the fast bowlers a break. His contribution to the Proteas since making his debut in Perth five years ago has been crucial. He completed the second Test in St. Lucia by claiming his seventh Test ‘five-for.’ “It’s hard being a spinner,” said Maharaj.
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“Luckily the mindsets are changing towards spin (in South Africa) and if I can be a catalyst for any of that then I’m doing half my job apart from trying to put in performances for the national team.”
“It’s important that we set an example for the younger spinners out there who will eventually play international cricket and Test cricket, that there is a future for spin bowling in our country. The captain and coach support good spin bowling, they see it as an asset and to have that support structure is good.”
Maharaj certainly provides the necessary balance to the South African attack. The ferocious fast bowling triumvirate; Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje, bullied the West Indies batsmen in the series.
“KG, Annas, Lungi and Wiaan were superb, they didn’t give the batters an inch to score and they tried to score off me and I reaped the rewards. From a bowling unit point of view we worked really well together,”said Maharaj.
The hosts failed to score 200 in any of the four innings in the series.
“We discussed more controlled aggression. We were young and naive about certain things, but the control we brought, in terms of the run rate and still having the ability to use our fast bowlers as strike options was very good. I think the follow up balls after showing their aggression was really important, to give us the wickets in the series.”