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Spinners will play key role in upcoming T20 WC: Maharaj

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Cape Town, Feb 10 (PTI) South Africa's premier left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj is confident that slow bowlers will play a vital role on flat decks expected to be on offer during the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in the Americas in June.

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The ninth edition of the T20 World Cup will be jointly hosted by the West Indies and USA from June 1 to 29 this year.

"Spinners will play a crucial role in the upcoming T20 World Cup. Wickets are getting better and boundaries are getting shorter. There is much need for a spinner in the team to provide control and variety," told PTI in an exclusive interview.

"Hopefully, these T20 platforms can give spinners even bigger role to players coming to the international stage," he added.

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The ace left-arm orthodox spinner, who picked up 14 wickets in nine matches at an impressive economy rate of 4.37 with a four-wicket haul against New Zealand in last year's ODI World Cup in India, is a vital cog in South African team.

The 34-year-old feels that key recipe of his success is being a "street smart" cricketer. And he now wants to guide the next generation of slow left-arm orthodox bowlers in South African ranks.

"You have to be street smart to succeed in T20 as a left-arm spinner. Do your homework. There is a need for any left-arm or right arm or finger spinner to complement each other.

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"If I can help the youngsters in this art of finger spin, I would like to believe that there will be some sort of motivation for them to continue with it and progress to higher level in international cricket," said Maharaj. Maharaj, a vital member of the Proteas T20 team, feels the shortest format is essential for the growth and development of the game.

"I haven't had IPL experience as yet but have been involved in SA20 and it is very good for the game. It is really drawing a lot of good exposure for the fans. It is also a nice incentive for local cricketers to rub shoulders with the best in the world," he said On personal front, he is also working on his batting skills besides honing his primary craft.

"I am working on my power-hitting as well because I know that I possess this ability. I hope to do well in both batting and bowling in near future," Maharaj said.

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Maharaj, a true blue devotee of Lord Ram loves the devotional tune 'Ram Siya Ram' blaring from the stadium sound box every time he goes out to bat. It is a request that he has put forth to all the in-stadia DJs.

During a recent Test match in Cape Town against India, Virat Kohli was seen standing with folded hands when the song was being played and the posed as if he pulled a bow string. The video had gone viral on social media.

He hailed the consecration ceremony at the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, and hopes to visit the sacred place in his next India visit.

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"I come from a very religious and spiritual family where religion and spirituality were taught to me but never forced upon. I just felt that it gives me guidance and perspective of life in tough situations. I follow the belief and very entwined with my religion and my spirituality," said the Durban-born cricketer.

"I do celebrate all the Hindu festivals at home. I send messages across whatever belief you have, it is important to have some belief in life," said Maharaj, who shared a special message on social media on Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha day in Ayodhya on January 22, Maharaj's great-grandfather hailed from Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh and migrated to Durban in 1874 as an indentured labourer.

"I am a very staunch devotee of Lord Ram and something of that magnitude to happen is something special. It doesn't happen in many places around the world so I was quite excited that it did happen," he said.

"I am sure if I do come to India in near future and if time allows, I would love to make a trip to Ayodhya," said the captain of Durban SuperGiants , a sister franchise of Lucknow SuperGiants in South Africa T20 League. PTI MJ SSC SSC KHS KHS

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