Johannesburg - New Pakistani signing Sohail Tanvir believes his own good form and the fine performances the Highveld Lions have already produced will make for a potent combination in the rest of the T20 Challenge.
Tanvir arrived in Johannesburg late last week and is set for his first outing for the Lions when they play the Knights in Potchefstroom on Wednesday. Dave Nosworthy's team are currently on top of the log and have the opportunity to extend their one-point lead over the Titans, who have played an extra game, and the central franchise, who are two points behind, also after six matches.
The left-arm paceman and powerful lower-order hitter has been playing in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and was one of the star performers in that competition, taking 13 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 15.53 and an economy rate of just 5.94.
"I was in very good form in Bangladesh and hopefully tomorrow will be my first chance to play together with the Lions. The Lions don't have many big names, but they have very good talent and have been performing very well.
"The Lions are on the top of the log, which means the local players have done very well, they've been winning on their own. That means there is less pressure on me. In the BPL, my team wasn't winning, which always makes it difficult for the professional, he is under more pressure. But here at the Lions, the local guys have performed very well," Tanvir said at the Wanderers on Tuesday.
The 27-year-old Tanvir first played for Pakistan in 2007, making his debut in South Africa in the T20 World Cup, and he was one of the stars of the tournament, helping his team into the final, where, unfortunately for them, they lost to India by five runs in a thriller.
"The cricket is very good in South Africa, most international players love to play here, and the facilities are very good too. One of the things I love about South Africa is that I made my debut here in the T20 World Cup. I have good and bad memories of the Wanderers, I played well here, but we lost the final - that's the bottom line! But there is good bounce and swing here," Tanvir said.
Knee problems, leading to surgery in 2010, perhaps explains why Tanvir is in Africa rather than preparing for the Asia Cup in Dhaka with the rest of the Pakistan squad. The bowler himself blames his unorthodox action, which leads to him bowling off the wrong foot a la Mike Procter, for the injury.
"I was out for one-and-a-half years with a knee injury, it was because of my action, the whole load is on my left leg. All my weight is on one leg, with no support from the other one. But I'm finally back to full form, I'm getting my swing back. In my country, we're not allowed to ask why we aren't selected, but I believe it was at the last moment and I'm not disappointed - this will be a good opportunity to show I'm good enough to play international cricket again," Tanvir said.
So a motivated fast bowler, whose great weapons are swing and yorkers, and a team high on confidence should make for a potent combination. And Tanvir has a history of success in T20 cricket, playing a key role in the Rajasthan Royals' triumph in the inaugural season of the IPL. He was the leading wicket-taker in the competition and also hit the winning runs in a last-ball triumph in the final.
"It's all about confidence. When a team is going well, nobody can stop you. In the IPL, we were one of the lowly teams and we did not have any really big names. But once we started winning, we beat all the teams with the big names.
"It's all about the team combination, when you're playing well as a team, it doesn't matter who is coming up against you," Tanvir said.
The Lions and Tanvir would seem to be a good fit for each other, and there is also the delicious prospect of two left-arm quicks opening the bowling with Australian Dirk Nannes already into the swing of things.