Keshav Maharaj all set for final exam

30 September 2019 - 16:14 By Telford Vice
Keshav Maharaj of South Africa speaks to a journalist during a training session at Dr. Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy ACA VDCA Cricket Stadium on Septmber 30 2019 in Visakhapatnam, India.
Keshav Maharaj of South Africa speaks to a journalist during a training session at Dr. Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy ACA VDCA Cricket Stadium on Septmber 30 2019 in Visakhapatnam, India.
Image: Isuru Sameera Peris/Gallo Images

Keshav Maharaj’s modesty serves him well‚ especially when people who are used to putting up with the opposite quality in cricketers expect him to sound like the rest.

In Visakhapatnam on Monday those people were the exclusively Indian pack of reporters preparing to cover the men’s Test series between India and South Africa that starts on Wednesday.

What did‚ for instance‚ Maharaj make of the assertion that he is the most threatening spinner from South Africa to tour India?

He muffled a laugh at the thought‚ and said‚ “I don’t think I’m the best. You can judge on the performances after this Test series‚ but it’s nice that people talk highly of you.

“I’m just trying to do my business. If I go under the radar and contribute to team and series victories‚ I’m on the right path.”

Maharaj talks like he bowls — carefully‚ efficiently‚ without fanfare and flourish.

If he had wanted to splash more colour into the conversation he might have said he has a better average in Asia‚ thanks to taking 16 wickets in two games in Sri Lanka last year‚ than at home: 24.37 versus 31.11.

Instead he spoke about taking his cue not from Ravichandran Ashwin‚ who has put a hitherto unknown sexiness into off-spin‚ but from the unflashy left-armer Ravichandran Jadeja.

“Ashwin has a lot of variation and Jadeja is very simple‚ but the key is his consistency and making it uncomfortable for the batters.

“If I can emulate that I can do my job from the one end.”

The last time South Africa played a Test series in India‚ in 2015‚ Ashwin and Jadeja bowled 63.32% of all India’s overs and claimed 54 of the 69 wickets that fell to the home side’s bowlers. Or 78.26%.

South Africa’s slow bowlers in that rubber‚ Imran Tahir and Simon Harmer — and a supporting cast of Stiaan van Zyl‚ Dean Elgar‚ Dane Piedt and JP Duminy — claimed 35 in the 290.2 overs they sent down.

That’s a respectable 63.64% of the total scalps‚ which means decent spinners prosper in India regardless of where they’re from.

“You can only test yourself when you play against the best in the best conditions‚” Maharaj said when asked about the prospect of bowling to players as brutal on spin as Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

“It will be a good tour for me to know where I’m at in terms of my skill work and if I belong in international cricket.

“I want to know how good I am by testing myself against the world’s best.”

Maharaj‚ who has taken 94 wickets in his 25 Tests‚ has passed that test.

Now for his final examination.

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