South Africa spinner Keshav Maharaj had little hope of competing at the World Cup in India when he first came out of surgery in March after rupturing his Achilles tendon, but he is now heading to next month’s tournament with renewed confidence.
The 33-year-old suffered the injury while celebrating a wicket in a Test against the West Indies in Johannesburg and had to be taken off the pitch on a stretcher.
“After I came out of surgery, I said I must I give myself every chance, but when you see how slow the initial phases of rehab are, you have negative thoughts,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“Three or four months after surgery I wouldn’t have said I would have gotten here, but with my medical team we plotted the journey and they gave me the best chance.”
Maharaj returned to the side for the on-going One Day International series against Australia, and has played in two of the three matches as both countries prepare for India.
“I put my head down and sacrificed a lot, from a diet point of view, from a rehab point of view, from a recovery point of view, making sure I was getting eight to 10 hours of sleep every night.
“I might not have got there but it was about giving yourself the best chance to get back to a place where you feel you belong.
“My forefathers are from India so I want to go back there and try to do something special for my country. That was the motivation that I needed.
“The 50-over format is very hard on the body but that’s something I wanted to experience. I always like to challenge myself.”
Maharaj was still in a ‘moon boot’ hobbling around four months after surgery.
“Then at five months, I started to believe once I started to run again. That’s when I realised that dream is a reality and we can push (to be fit).”
Maharaj was one of the stars on Tuesday as South Africa beat Australia by 111 runs in Potchefstroom to reduce the deficit in the series to 2-1.
“There’s obviously some room for improvement but it’s building up towards something. The main thing is that I can execute my skills,” he added.
The fourth ODI will be played in Pretoria on Friday.
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