“My emotions come out sometimes,” ace Proteas spinner Tabraiz Shamsi admitted at the weekend, and he was not just talking about his reaction to the on-field battle but also the way the South African team has been criticised of late.
Shamsi produced yet another man-of-the-match display, taking three for 20 in four overs as the Proteas bundled Sri Lanka out for just 103 in the second T20 International in Colombo, setting up a thumping nine-wicket win with 35 balls to spare that clinched a third successive series win for South Africa.
The left-arm wrist-spinner was hit for only one boundary, a massive blow into the sightscreen by Dasun Shanaka. But the next delivery Shamsi ripped through the gate to bowl the Sri Lanka captain, leading to a pumped-up celebration. It was one of many on the night by the Proteas and Shamsi admitted that the team had been extra-motivated by all the negativity over them back home.
“My emotions come out sometimes and it’s partly because I waited a long time for a place in the team. And then when someone smokes you like that, I can’t use the words here that are in my head, but then to get the batsman out after a moment like that leads to great satisfaction,” Shamsi said.
“I realise now that getting hit for six is part-and-parcel of T20. There’s no embarrassment – all the great spinners have been hit for six – and my mindset has changed a lot. But if you hit me for six, you must know that I’m coming back for you with the next ball I bowl.
“There’s a lot of perceptions about us, people looking negatively at the team and the way we are playing. But we are not rubbish. My opinion is that we are actually quite good, on par with the great South African teams. We just need to play more international cricket.”
While the 31-year-old continued to justify his ranking as the world’s top-ranked T20 bowler, Shamsi praised the help he had been getting from his friends in the rest of the Proteas spin attack.
“Sri Lanka have prepared spinning pitches thinking it was our weakness, but we are capable of fighting fire with fire,” he said.
“The majority of our overs are now spin because we have so many quality spinners, whereas there may have been a reluctance in the past to play them and we would only have four to eight overs of spin before.
“It’s a refreshing change that we are picking the team for the conditions, and it’s nice for me to have all that back-up because it means I can be utilised in different ways.”
The third and final T20 will be played at Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday.