Wanderers ripper what Rabada needed

2016-03-07 13:44
Kagiso Rabada (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Over 400 runs in 40 overs, with the game decided in the most dramatic fashion on the final ball ... you won't find much more in the way of entertainment on a cricket field. 

The batting displays of David Warner and Glenn Maxwell were simply breathtaking - their 161-run partnership off just 79 balls the ultimate difference between Australia and the Proteas in Johannesburg on Sunday. 

For the Proteas, it was heartache. 

And while there were a number of incidents that can be identified as possible moments where South Africa lost the game - Chris Morris' missed run-out, Morris' no-ball followed by two wides in the 17th over, David Wiese's expensive spell of 0/58 - there were real positives for the Proteas to take from the 5-wicket loss. 

Dale Steyn got through his first T20I since April 2014 with a pass mark - his 2/32 enough to suggest that he is fully fit and still capable. 

The knocks of Faf du Plessis (79), Quinton de Kock (44) and David Miller (33) were also encouraging, and South Africa's batting line-up does have a healthy look to it going into this month's World Cup. 

But perhaps the biggest positive from Sunday came in the form of Kagiso Rabada. 

There is not much more that can be said about the 20-year-old. 

Time and time again, ever since the Proteas went on their tour of India in October last year, Rabada has put in performances to suggest that he is something special. 

His 2/25 in the context of Sunday's free-for-all was another fine display, but the major positive was not so much the performance as it was the experience of the match situation. 

That Du Plessis entrusted Rabada with the final over ahead of Steyn speaks volumes about the respect that he has commanded in such a short space of time. 

He may have lost in the end - and two wides in his final over didn't help - but Rabada taking centre stage in a final over drama against the Aussies at a packed Wanderers can only be a good thing for him. 

He has now felt what it is like when heat is cranked up to maximum, yet throughout that final over Rabada appeared to be the coolest man in Gauteng. 

The result did not go the home side's way, but if South Africa find themselves in a similar position in India - which is likely given the nature of T20 cricket - then they can at least throw the ball to Rabada knowing that such a situation is not something novel to him, nor something that affects him. 

Du Plessis perhaps summed it up best in his post-match presser on Sunday:

"He's an exceptional talent. He's got a really bright future ahead of him and a great head on his shoulders. He never gets arrogant and always has both feet on the ground ... a really competitive guy," the skipper said of South Africa's brightest star.

"As a captain I've got no issue entrusting a 20-year-old to bowl the last over ... that's how far he has come and I'm really excited to see what he does in this World Cup."

Before then, the Proteas have one last date with Australia at PPC Newlands on Wednesday (18:00). 

And given how valuable a cog Rabada is set to be for the Proteas in India, a night off with his feet up might not be the worst call in the world ...

Follow @LloydBurnard on Twitter ...


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