Tahir wants to justify role in the team

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South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir is determined to successfully combat Sri Lankan stalwarts Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene during Sunday's first ODI.

South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir is determined to successfully combat Sri Lankan stalwarts Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene during Sunday's first ODI.

Tahir went without a wicket in Thursday's tour fixture against the Sri Lanka Board President's XI at the Tyronne Fernando Stadium in Moratuwa, but will be a key part of the visitors' attack in Colombo.

"Jayawardene and Sangakkara are two of the greatest players of spin in the world, and there are other very good players of spin in their squad," said Tahir.

"They obviously grew up facing spin rather than fast bowling so it will be a good challenge. I bowled against them when they were in South Africa and I did well, so I'm hoping to do the same again."

The 35-year-old Tahir has taken a 21 wickets in 12 matches across the shortest format of the international game – and was named Cricket South Africa's T20I Player of the Year last month.

"T20 cricket is totally different to ODI cricket, especially with the five fielders in the ring. I have put in a lot of hard work and training, so I'm just hoping that the debt pays me back on the field," he added.

"I have always been really confident, but maybe in the past I wasn't sure where I stood in the team. At the moment I am playing T20Is, ODIs and Tests, so that automatically gives me good confidence about myself. Hopefully I can justify my role in the team."

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