Johannesburg [South Africa] : South African spinner Keshav Maharaj has said that the thought of playing the World Cup in India last year was extra motivation for him to deal with his Achilles tendon injury and he would have been "shattered" if he was unable to make it.
He also opened up on his retirement plans.
In the second Test against West Indies at home last year, Keshav sustained a serious Achilles tendon injury which saw him get stretchered off the field. His participation in the ICC Cricket World Cup in India was in doubt but the Proteas spin spearhead recovered and made it to the marquee cricket tournament.
South Africa though, faced a heartbreak after losing to Australia in semi-final. In 10 matches in the World Cup, Maharaj took 15 wickets
Maharaj said that even though negative thoughts of not getting to play again crossed his mind, the World Cup served as a motivation to him to get fit. Winning the tournament could have been a fairy-tale finish for him, but he said
"It did cross my mind... But I think I got over it very quickly when I said to myself, 'I need to play the World Cup'. I would have been shattered if I did not get there [to the World Cup], but I wanted to give myself the best chance of being there. It would have hurt but that was extra motivation," he said, according to ESPNCricinfo.
"I wanted to have that fairy-tale story, but getting to the semi-final was a huge thing. It was not meant to be but the cricket we played was phenomenal. We went down with a fight. And we were well received when we came back and hopefully we can build on that," he added.
Maharaj said if South Africa wants him, he would like to play the 2027 Cricket World Cup and he would feel unfulfilled if he does not win the World Cup. The spinner,34, said that he wants to play international cricket till he is 40,
"If South Africa wants me, I am going to try and go for as long as possible, especially up until the 2027 World Cup. That is my first goal. Hopefully, we can play the next three ICC events because I will feel very unfulfilled if I do not win a World Cup," Maharaj said.
"I want to play international cricket until I am 40. And then I still want to play the domestic game as long as I can - maybe a year or two after my international career. I believe as a South African contracted player I have a duty to make our system stronger and better," he added.
Maharaj has played 50 Tests, 44 ODIs and 27 T20Is for Proteas, taking 158, 55 and 24 wickets respectively. With five Test half-centuries, he is also a capable batter.