Durban - In the week in which cricketer Faf du Plessis was bought by the Chennai Super Kings, he also gets to play against his IPL captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the first of five One Day Internationals (ODIs) between South Africa and India, starting on Wednesday at Kingsmead.
"Honestly, this week has been the highlight of my whole life," said Du Plessis, who will be making his debut for the Proteas.
"It’s been a great week for me, like a dream come true. For me, it’s just awesome how quickly they (Proteas) take you in and welcome you into the family."
Du Plessis said he had not yet met Dhoni, but was looking forward to playing against one of the top teams in the world.
India are ranked the number one Test team in the world and are second only to Australia in the ODI rankings.
South Africa are number two in the Test rankings and fourth on the ODI list.
"It’s great for us to get to play against India as they’re one of the top sides in the world. Now we can measure ourselves against them and see how good we are," said Du Plessis.
He is in the Proteas side primarily as a batsman, but also bowls and is a good fielder, which gives his captain more options.
"I’ve worked hard the last two years on my bowling as well as my batting. I did very nicely at the Titans and have had the opportunity to bowl a lot more overs since Paul Harris has left, so I hope it will continue," he said.
The other new cap in the Proteas’ side is leg-spinner Imran Tahir, a late inclusion in the preliminary World Cup squad as he only became eligible to play for South Africa on New Year’s Eve.
Tahir took 12 wickets (six in each innings) for the Dolphins against the Warriors in Port Elizabeth in their recent four-day SuperSport match which ended on Sunday.
The 31-year-old, who was born in Pakistan and was granted South African citizenship by naturalisation, has taken more than 530 first-class wickets in 127 matches in the various South African domestic competitions.
Since his move to the Dolphins from the Titans, where he could not make the team, he is the leading wicket taker in the SuperSport Series, with 42 wickets this season. His nearest rival is Ethy Mbhalati with 29.
"It’s tough for a leg-spinner to play against India, but I’ve got nothing to lose," said Tahir.
"I’ve been bowling well for the Dolphins and also in county cricket, so I look forward to the opportunity now to play for the Proteas."
Tahir said he had put behind him his experience at the Titans and did not focus on the past.
"I haven’t been looking at the negative things. I’ve just worked hard and been taking wickets. It’s every cricketer's dream to be at the World Cup so my hard work has paid off," he said.
"I’m an attacking bowler and more than happy to go for a few runs. That’s just how I am, but I will go with whatever the team plan is."
Tahir said he was aware that spin bowling was a dying art in South Africa.
"It’s the trend on the sub-continent, but not in South Africa. I want to bring that trend back to South Africa. It’s not easy to bowl, which is maybe why kids don’t try it, but my target is to make it more popular in this country over the next two or three years."
ODI squad: Graeme Smith (Cape Cobras, capt), Hashim Amla (Dolphins), Johan Botha (Warriors), AB de Villiers (Titans), JP Duminy (Cape Cobras), Faf du Plessis (Titans), Colin Ingram (Warriors), David Miller (Dolphins), Morne Morkel (Titans), Wayne Parnell (Warriors), Robin Peterson (Cape Cobras), Dale Steyn (Cape Cobras), Imran Tahir (Dolphins), Lonwabo Tsotsobe (Warriors)