Tahir gets South African citizenship, may play ODIs against India

Saturday, January 1, 2011

DURBAN - Pakistan-born spinner Imran Tahir was finally granted South African citizenship, but he won’t be considered for the final Test against India in Cape Town. The leg-spinner, however, can feature in the five-match ODI series starting Jan 12.

Tahir was granted South African citizenship by naturalisation Friday and is now eligible to play for the Proteas with immediate effect. Tahir has also fulfilled the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) regulations to represent his new country, not having represented the country of his birth at any level for more than 4 years.

The 31-year-old Tahir has taken more than 530 first-class wickets in 127 matches and is one of the leading wicket-takers in South Africa’s various domestic competitions.

“Imran Tahir, the former Pakistan ‘A’ team leg spinner, is now fully eligible to play cricket for South Africa following the decision by the South African Government to grant him permanent residency. He also qualifies in terms of the International Cricket Council regulations to be eligible to play for South Africa after his four-year break between last playing for Pakistan ‘A’ and playing in South Africa for this period.

“Imran has made South Africa his home and has been married for some time to a South African. He has been a leading wicket taker in the top South African domestic competitions for the past few seasons and is highly respected by both his colleagues and his opponents,” said Gerald Majola, Cricket South Africa (CSA) CEO.

Though Majola said that Tahir certainly becomes a contender for selection to the Proteas squad, CSA’s convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson said he won’t be considered for the Cape Town Test. Hudson also said that Tahir may make his international debut in the ODI series against India.

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