Imran Tahir has insisted that despite the Test series scoreline, South Africa aren't taking Bangladesh lightly with the latter having reached the semifinals in the Champions Trophy. © Getty Images

Imran Tahir has insisted that despite the Test series scoreline, South Africa aren’t taking Bangladesh lightly with the latter having reached the semifinals in the Champions Trophy. © Getty Images

Imran Tahir stated his desire to continue playing for South Africa at least till the 2019 World Cup in England. Tahir, the 38-year-old legspinner, stressed the need for him to maintain fitness levels to realise the ambition.

“Personally, I would love to be there,” he said on Thursday (October 12) of the marquee event, ahead of South Africa’s five-match One-Day International series against Bangladesh starting on Sunday. “I want to work hard on my fitness and do well for South Africa to make sure I am there. I don’t want to leave the space that I’m in at the moment, I love my cricket, that is my life and I want to give everything I’ve got for South Africa. That is how I want to play my cricket until the end.”

With less than two years to go for the World Cup, teams have already started planning for the quadrennial bash. Tahir emphasised the need to play hard cricket in a bid to prep South Africa in their quest of elusive World Cup silverware.

“If we are looking ahead to the World Cup, we will need to play hard cricket,” Tahir offered. “We don’t have to win all the games that are coming in front of us, a win or a loss doesn’t matter as long as you try your best and cover all the areas that you need to as a team. I have no doubt we will do that, this team has big potential and starting from this series will be good prep for the World Cup.

South Africa go into the ODIs against Bangladesh as firm favourites, having won the two preceding Tests by massive margins. A South African Invitation XI’s comfortable win over the visitors on Thursday consolidated the tag.

But Tahir warned against taking their visitors lightly, pointing out that Bangladesh were good enough to make the semifinals of the Champions Trophy, where South Africa crashed out in the group stage itself.

“They proved that during the Champions Trophy, they qualified for the semifinals,” Tahir said of the opponents. “They are not an easy team to beat, if people think that. We have to prepare like we do for any international game.”

While Tahir warned against taking Bangladesh lightly, he also exuded confidence in South Africa’s ability to defeat any team if they played their best game.

“We have to continue with the type of cricket we have been playing over the last two to three years,” he said, “I have no doubt we can beat any team. It is the first (ODI) game of the season in South Africa, so we are up for it and will make sure we cover all of our areas for this game.

“We want to win,” the legspinner sounded out the series objective plainly. “We have three practice days to work hard in preparation of the series. We need to be fully prepared, we are playing an international side, you can’t just arrive, turn over the arm and beat the team. We are up for it, we want to compete and play as hard as we can to win.”