Modest Rabada takes it all in his stride


This is not exactly the blueprint to win Test matches. Fortunately for the Proteas, within the chest of one of those two fast bowlers, beats the brave heart of an African lion. A young man who thrives in adversity like the young democratic country he represents.

No lesser figure than Shane Warne had forewarned his Australian contemporaries about the Proteas’ young "champion" fast bowler Kagiso Rabada. Back in August already the legendary leg-spinner tweeted that he will "make the Aussie boys jump around!

But yet they did not listen. Instead they chose to taunt the 21-year-old with veteran Australian pace bowler Peter Siddle saying "I reckon he's the man we can sort of target". It was akin to waving a red flag in front of a raging bull and Perth was Rabada’s Pamplona.

With only four Australian wickets down overnight, and Dale Steyn already on a plane back home with his shoulder in a sling ready to begin arguably the biggest personal challenge of his career, the South Africans knew there was still an almighty task left ahead of them on the final day.

They were proved correct. Firstly it was the defiant Usman Khawaja. He was followed by Peter Neville and Josh Hazelwood as the home side tried valiantly to gain some measure of lost pride through stretching their doomed fate to as late as possible. The Aussies were desperate not to gift the Proteas an easy victory and collapse like they did in their first innings when Steve Smith’s side lost all 10 wickets for just 86 runs.

It certainly drained Vernon Philander’s energy – the only other seamer in the Proteas attack – but not the irrepressible Rabada. He simply returned to his mark. Processed his gameplan. And then swiveled to in anticipation of delivering another rasping delivery.

If it was not successful, he would simply repeat it again and again and again. It’s not a wonder captain Faf du Plessis gave Rabada, who was awarded the Man of the Match award for his second innings 5/92, an almighty kiss when the young fast bowler claimed his fifth wicket for the 21-year-old is a captain’s dream.

"Two things could have happened: either we would have cleaned them up before lunch and we'd have been done or this would have happened where we had to wait until tea time. If it does happen, great. If it doesn't you have to keep on persisting and hitting your straps and that's what we did," said Rabada, displaying once again a sense of maturity beyond his tender years.

It certainly was a performance worthy of Steyn’s approval with the Proteas talisman, so often the catalyst for victories such as these previously, tweeting after the game "massive”. It certainly was.

The obvious conclusion with two matches still to go in the series is that Rabada is now the torchbearer of the Proteas attack in Steyn’s absence. It was a label pinned on the youngster after his heroic feats last summer against England too. And while he may have been given the key to the family house now due to turning 21 since, he doesn’t mind "sounding like a stuck record" for the meantime.

"I don't see myself being the leader of the attack. Every player has a job to do," he said. "I have a responsibility to make sure I produce the good for your country. You've got a job to do, it's a passion and you do it for your teammates and the people back home. No one wants to lose, right? So you have to try to do everything you can to win."

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At exactly 3:30pm on Monday afternoon South Africa had defeated Australia in their own backyard with just two pace bowlers in the second innings.

Original source: Modest Rabada takes it all in his stride