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BIG INTERVIEW: Shamsi upbeat about Proteas’ T20 World Cup chances

Proteas spinning maestro Tabraiz Shamsi is pumped up and raring to take on the world’s best in the T20 Cricket World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman starting on Monday.

The Proteas won’t be in action during the first round of the tournament that will see eight teams battling it out for the final four places in the Super 12 division and will play their first game against old foes Australia next week Saturday.

Despite the Proteas not being one of the fancied teams heading into the showpiece event, Shamsi is quietly confident of the team’s chances.

“We have flown under the radar and we are very comfortable with that as a team,” explained Shamsi.

“I think we have all the skills that we need in our squad and I am happy that people are underestimating us because it gives us an opportunity just to do our thing without too much attention and I am looking forward to surprising a lot of people.

“I firmly believe we can go all the way, we are here for a reason, we are here to win the World Cup and it’s as simple as that.”

Getting used to conditions in UAE

It has been a slightly frustrating month for Shamsi in the lead up to the World Cup as he has been in the UAE with the Rajasthan Royals team playing in the IPL, but has found minimal game time only featuring once, but is still happy with the experience helping his preparation.

“It was quite nice to come here a month before the World Cup and get used to the weather … I don’t think you can ever get used to the heat but it was nice to train at the facilities that you’ll be using,” explained Shamsi.

“I think what the IPL showed was that the pitches really didn’t spin excessively, they were on the slow side like people expected but it didn’t really turn as much. But after having played so many games on those pitches during the IPL maybe they might turn a little bit more.

“But I think us as a team, we’ve got every base covered, so regardless of what the conditions are I am very happy with the personnel we have in our squad and we have everything that we need to be able to play well, no matter what the pitches offer us.”

World’s top-ranked bowler

Shamsi heads into the World Cup as the world’s top ranked T20 bowler and with that comes a lot of expectation, but it is not something that bothers him, especially with the support he gets from the rest of the bowling unit.

“I don’t think it’s a burden (the ranking), it’s actually a nice place to be,” he said. “Certainly for myself when I started playing cricket I wanted to be the world’s best so I don’t see it as a burden.

“But having said that it’s not all about me, we have so many wonderful bowlers in our unit, so I’m just a part of a group of seven or eight guys that we have in the squad that are equally as good as I am or even better.

“So for me it’s just another four overs that I have to bowl every game to the best of my abilities and the rest of the guys will take care of what they need to do.”

Despite his fantastic recent form that has seen him head into the World Cup as one of the most dangerous bowlers, Shamsi admits that it is all about playing for the team and performing in whatever role he is required for on the day.

‘Not about the number of wickets’

“I always want to do well whenever I play, I would like to put in match winning contributions for the team whatever role the coach or captain has given me,” said Shamsi.

“It has been quite a floaty role for myself, whether it’s been conservative in my bowling I’m happy to do that, or on another day if the captain wants me to strike and take wickets I’m happy to do that as well.

“So from a personal point of view I’d like to measure my success with the number of contributions I’ve made according to our game plans.

“Nothing else, it’s not about the number of wickets or number of man of the match awards. I’m comfortable in knowing that if I’ve made contributions that have helped the team win that is all I am looking to achieve.”