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10-Jan-2010 05:37:00 GMT
South Africa vs England, 4th Test, Johannesburg

SA Withdraw Tahir Over Eligibility Fears

Johannesburg: South Africa have withdrawn Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir from their squad for Thursday's fourth and final Test against England because of fears over his eligibility.

Cricket South Africa media officer Michael Owen-Smith said on Saturday the 30-year-old had been pulled out to avoid any problems.

Tahir, born in Lahore, married a South African woman and became a naturalised citizen last year.

"Imran Tahir's permanent resident papers have not come through yet and Cricket South Africa would rather be absolutely certain of his eligibility before playing him," said Owen-Smith. "We have to be 100 percent certain before putting him in a national squad."

Tahir qualifies as a local player for domestic cricket and represents Easterns.

Although he has played just two matches in South Africa's premier four-day competition this season, taking seven wickets at an average of 51, Tahir has done well for Easterns in the lower-ranked SAA Provincial Challenge, claiming 36 wickets at 15.61.

He was also English county Hampshire's leading wicket-taker last season with 52 victims.

Tahir's withdrawal eases the pressure on Paul Harris. The left-arm spinner's place seemed to be in doubt after he failed to bowl South Africa to victory on the final day of the drawn third Test in Cape Town.

Harris is now the only frontline spinner left in the squad for the Johannesburg Test as no replacement was named for Tahir. England lead the series 1-0.

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