Fast and slow, Rabada, South Africa’s hope to end jinx

Kagiso Rabada for South Africa
Kagiso Rabada for South Africa (PC: X)

The first ball he bowled was driven uppishly past him for a four. The next 17 cost 14 runs and fetched three wickets. A bowler who can generate high speed, he used slower deliveries with telling effect. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that those helped South Africa avoid embarrassment against the USA in the T20 World Cup’s Super Eights match in Antigua.

Used in two spells, Kagiso Rabada gave ample evidence of being in rhythm and used his intelligence other than pace to help his team start the business end of the competition with a win. The Proteas are known to lose the plot at this stage of big events and for that to change, the fast bowler born in Johannesburg will have to play a vital role.

It’s true that Quinton de Kock played an important hand with the bat and Heinrich Klaasen added crucial runs. But for South Africa to clinch it after things became nervy towards the end, Rabada was the man. He used all his variations and mixed up his pace to keep the batters guessing. It looked like a different game when the other South African bowlers were in operation.

Speaking on Cricbuzz, former Australia star Adam Gilchrist likened Rabada to Pat Cummins. “He has been exposed to different scenarios and it looks like he is enjoying those pressure situations. He is the one who wins those big moments so often, like Cummins does. Rabada looks like he is growing in stature at the back end of the innings.”

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Kagiso Rabada vs SL
Kagiso Rabada vs SL (PC: X)

Cricket is a batter’s game and T20 even more so. It’s equally undeniable that to win tournaments, one needs bowlers who are effective. Rabada offers a complete package in that regard. Fast, with control over movement, and the brain to go with the brawns — he is any captain’s delight. Ability to deliver in different stages of an innings makes him all the more useful. He also seems to have developed better control over the slower delivery, which he used effectively in this game.

South Africa have an enviable attack at the moment, with left-arm and right-arm pace, wrist spin and finger spin. This versatile attack has the potential to trouble any team. Rabada adds the cutting edge to this. Had he not been on the money in that 19th over against the USA, 28 off 12 deliveries with five wickets in hand was anybody’s game.

England and the West Indies will obviously be much tougher opponents in South Africa’s remaining two Super Eights matches. Their batters are more experienced in handling pressure situations and the test will be different. Rabada has the weapons to deal with that. Anything can happen, but South Africa’s opponents will know that they have a serious threat to contend with.

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