Dubai, March 5: South Africa leg-spinner Imran Tahir will step down from ODI cricket after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, it was announced on Monday. The Pakistan-born twirler is currently contracted to Cricket South Africa (CSA) until 31 July, after which he will make himself available for T20 franchise cricket, according to ICC's website.
However, the 39-year-old would like to continue to don the Proteas shirt in T20 internationals ahead of the 2020 ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia, but believes the time is right to allow younger spin talents to emerge in the 50-over format.
Tahir qualified to play for South Africa on January 1, 2011, and was selected for the 2011 World Cup. Virat Kohli-MS Dhoni Bonhomie Deepens Moving Into ICC World Cup 2019: For Indian Skipper, It’s My Way and ‘The Mahi Way’.
On June 15, 2016, in a match against the West Indies, Tahir became the first South African bowler to take seven wickets in an ODI, whilst also becoming the fastest South African to reach 100 ODI wickets.
Tahir has an incredible 156 wickets at 24.56 from 95 ODIs and he is expected to be a key player for South Africa in their challenge for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
"I have always wanted to play in the World Cup. It would be a great achievement for me to play for this great team. I have a mutual understanding with Cricket South Africa and going forward I decided that I would finish at the World Cup, that is why I am contracted until then," Tahir said.
"After that, Cricket South Africa has allowed me to go and play around the world in various leagues but I would also love to play T20 cricket for South Africa. I think I have the ability and can play a role in T20 cricket for South Africa. I am grateful for the opportunity.
"I would love to play for as long as I can, but there is a stage in your life where you have to make big decisions. This is one of those big decisions, it is definitely the biggest decision of my life.
"I also feel there are a couple of good spinners in the country who need the opportunity. We are fighting for the same spot, but looking to the future, they will have more opportunities to play for South Africa."