Meet CSK skipper MS Dhoni’s teammate, born in Pakistan, married to Indian-origin model

With a Bollywood-esque love and life story, this Pakistan-born South Africa cricketer made big sacrifices and found luck at the unlikeliest of times.

With a Bollywood-esque love and life story, Pakistan-born South Africa cricketer Imran Tahir made big sacrifices and found luck at the unlikeliest of times. Tahir started out as a first-class cricketer in Pakistan. He even represented Pakistan at the U-19 level but failed to secure the dream international debut at the senior level.

Tahir toiled hard, even had stints in county cricket playing for Yorkshire and Middlesex. But when success failed to arrive, he decided to let his life take an unexpected turn, driven by the desire to play cricket and triggered by his love for an Indian-origin woman he met in South Africa years ago.

Tahir had met Sumayya Dildar, a model, when he first came to South Africa in 1998. The connection was instant and he visited the country several times to meet her. Then in 2006, the Lahore-born spinner decided to make the big shift to the country of his ladylove. He was helped by dear friend Ghulam Bodi, the Indian-South African cricketer, and the Titans cricket team in relocating to Durban.

The first few years were a struggle and Tahir remained ‘hand-to-mouth’. His international debut finally came in 2011 as South Africa selected him as a Test specialist against Australia. Tahir never looked back and gradually made himself a mainstay in ODIs and then one of the most dangerous bowlers in T20s.

The success even brought him to the IPL where he played for the Delhi Daredevils and then alongside legendary India captain MS Dhoni in Rising Pune Supergiants and Chennai Super Kings. IPL 2019 was one of his high points as Tahir won the Purple Cap as the tournament’s highest wicket taker. The 44-year-old retired in 2019, having played 20 Test matches, 107 ODIs and 38 T20Is for South Africa. Tahir ended up with 293 international wickets to his name.

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