Shamsi credits Highveld experience with helping him in Dambulla

Proteas left-arm wrist-spinner, Tabraiz Shamsi, believes his experience of South African conditions gave him a timely advantage towards his career-best performance of 4/33 in the five-wicket win against Sri Lanka in the first One-Day International (ODI) in Dambulla on Sunday.

The spinner was surprised by the pitch at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, which he described as similar to those up on the highveld back home.

“To be honest, I felt like it was a bit more of a South Africa type of wicket,” he said after the match. “ There wasn’t much spin, especially because we bowled first. We bowl a lot on pitches like this back home so it was okay to adjust.”

Shamsi, along with left-arm spinner, Keshav Maharaj, have been picked as the two front-line spinners for the series ahead of the incumbent Imran Tahir, who has been rested to allow the selectors a look into the spin resources. Although his performance has asserted his role as a wicket-taking option, the 26-year-old says he can adapt to any situation needed by the team.

Proteas bowlers torpedo Sri Lanka to set up ODI win

“Every time I play, I try to do my best for the team,” he explained. “ I have been given freedom by the captain and the coach to try and express myself, I am glad I was able to produce today. Cricket is a funny game, you are not always going to have a good day, sometimes things might go wrong. I have been given the freedom to express myself and to try and take wickets, on another day my job might be to contain and hold the game. It depends on what is required of me.”

He gave credit to the new-ball pair of Kagiso Rabada (4/41) and Lungi Ngidi (1/29), who blasted through the top order in the opening eight overs to leave the hosts five down for 35. Rabada (49) and Ngidi (5) only have 54 ODI caps between them, but bowled with exceptional aggression and intent to lead an inexperienced seam attack.

“Even though I managed to get out the batsmen who made runs, our fast bowlers made our job a lot easier,” Shamsi said. “ Any team that is five down early with 30-odd runs on the board makes the job easier. Credit to Sri Lanka for getting close to 200 runs after a start like that. I am happy to do my job when I am given the ball, which is to take wickets.”

The second match takes place at the same venue on Wednesday.