Rabada revving it up for SA

2015-08-16 22:42
Kagiso Rabada (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Kagiso Rabada may be only some three months out of his teens but he looks increasingly likely to add maiden Test caps this season to his early, accomplished strides for South Africa in the two limited-overs formats.

The 20-year-old has just completed successive Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand, and ended the mini-series as the most eye-catching of the frontline Proteas bowlers over the course of the Kingsmead and SuperSport Park clashes.

Certainly it was through no fault on his part that the Black Caps struck back on Sunday at Centurion to earn a 1-1 outcome - he had played a major part in curtailing the tourists to a total fractionally short of statistical par batting first at the venue, and SA lost this one more because of over-eagerness on the part of key batsmen in reply with acting captain AB de Villiers and Rilee Rossouw notable culprits after looking seriously threatening.

Rabada showed extraordinary cool-headedness, in a collectively raw attack, on both Friday and Sunday to go with the impressive collection of skills that are becoming more and more evident from the Johannesburg-born customer.

Throw in the fact that memories remain vivid of his world record haul of 6-16 for an ODI debut against Bangladesh in Dhaka not much more than a month ago, and it is clear the Proteas are onto a really good thing with this baby-faced strike bowler.

Rabada’s burgeoning development bears out what coach Russell Domingo had confidently told Sport24 at the Cricket South Africa awards in the off-season, even as he cautioned about astute management of him being necessary: “He’s a diamond ... there is something special about him; very mature, a solid guy. He gets good shape, possesses pace and is a fine athlete.”

All of those observations were proved on the button as Rabada added a haul of 3/30 from a full four-over quota on Sunday to go with the 2/29 registered two days before.

Each time De Villiers felt confident enough to saddle him with important “death” duty - and the novice had little trouble in answering the calls.

Rabada bowled the very final over of the NZ innings in Durban, and apart from being thumped for one six kept a suitably tight lid on things as he claimed 2/9 to curtail the late blitzkrieg.

He went even better at Centurion, albeit entrusted with the penultimate over this time, grabbing two for two and finding himself sitting on a hat-trick at one point for the second time in fewer than 48 hours.

On Sunday the delivery he whizzed down to attempt to achieve the rare landmark clocked 150km/h on the speed-gun, was straight as a ruler and only just kept out.

Tall and languid, his faster delivery is genuinely swift but already he is more than prepared to vary his pace enormously and frequently change his angles or methods of attack.

“There is just a spark about this youngster ... fabulous,” said television commentator and former Zimbabwe paceman Mpumelelo Mbangwa.

Another critic, former SA seamer and coach Eric Simons, said the young athlete’s action - “he bowls behind himself a bit” - possibly made him more awkward for batsmen to work out than fast bowlers with more orthodox ones.

Expect Rabada to continue his impressive learning curve when the ODI portion of the tour begins, also at Centurion, on Wednesday.

He will team up with  a certain Dale Steyn, back in the mix for this format, so the Highveld public ought to have a marvellous opportunity to see the budding pupil work in tandem with the established master of the pace trade.

 *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  kagiso rabada  |  cricket

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