Cape Town – Kagiso Rabada on Sunday completed a
distinguished personal double in the summer hostilities against England.
The baby-faced fast bowler, by ending the one-day
international series with nine scalps (average 19.88, economy rate 4.73),
ensured that he was South Africa’s leading wicket-taker – exactly his status in
the prior Test series, a hugely rare feat for a 20-year-old.
Rabada was edged out overall for dismissals in the ODIs by
the lanky English left-arm seamer Reece Topley, who accounted for 10 poles at
21.90, although his economy was a fair bit weaker at 6.08.
Topley also had the advantage of an extra match, playing in
all five fixtures whereas Rabada was rested for the opener in Bloemfontein.
It was probably the intention to give the languid Lions
paceman a bit more time off as the series progressed, but such was his
influence – yet again – that it became almost impossible to keep him sidelined.
In an otherwise inconsistent Proteas attack, you always felt
that it was up to either Rabada or Kyle Abbott to bring an element of control
when things looked like unravelling; the latter ended the ODIs just behind
Rabada with eight SA wickets at an economy rate of 5.21.
Perhaps under-rated, considering the rightful laurels for
captain AB de Villiers’s game-tilting unbeaten century, was Rabada’s vital pair
of scalps in the space of two deliveries – dangerous duo Ben Stokes and Jos
Buttler – at a time when England were ominously barrelling along in the middle
of their innings.
Those two dismissals, both bowled and with Rabada’s impressive
nous against individual foes coming to the fore, pegged the tourists back and
went a long way to explaining why they were eventually bowled out well short of
negotiating a full 50 overs.
It was also the second time in the series that “KG” had completed
his bowling stint while conceding fewer than four runs to the over – something
he also managed while wicketless in Port Elizabeth.
In total, that phenomenon has been enjoyed by Rabada five
times in his 14 bowling innings in the ODI arena, which tells you that there is
something of a Shaun Pollock-style discipline element to accompany his many
attributes in the strike column.
Just a reminder that the St Stithians product had snared 22
wickets at 21.90 in only three Tests against England, making him the overall series
bowling “champ” even in defeat for South Africa; the vastly more experienced
Stuart Broad bagged 18 scalps at 20.61 for the visitors.
For all his rawness, there is a strong case for saying that
when South Africa go to the looming ICC World Twenty20 – his first senior
global limited-overs tournament – Kagiso Rabada may well do so as leader in
every respect of the Proteas attack, especially as doubts still swirl around
Dale Steyn’s readiness.
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