Bengaluru, April 8: Kagiso Rabada showed his two sharply contrasting sides in 2018. He nearly got banned after making a physical contact with Steve Smith, came close to courting a ban for the send off of Chris Lynn in an ODI that threatened to add to his 7 demerit points and missed a good chunk of cricket with a back stress.
But Rabada never let the rage and misfortune consume him. He took 38 wickets from seven Tests to sweep the Cricket South Africa awards. And Delhi Capitals have been benefitted by the presence of Rabada the enforcer in IPL 2019.
After a modest IPL 2017 and missing the last year's tournament owing to an injury, Rabada has finally made his presence felt in the T20 league this year. He so far has taken 11 wickets from six games, the current holder of the purple cap. Raved about for his death over skills, Rabada underlined that ability against Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Defending 10 runs in the super over, Rabada bowled Andre Russell with a yorker that clocked well above 147 kmph. In fact, he bowled six yorkers in a row. On Sunday (April 7), Rabada blunted Royal Challengers' ambitions of a bigger total than their eventual 149, taking three crucial wickets, including that of Virat Kohli, at death. The spell of 4-12 was a fine vindication of the growth of Rabada as a bowler, the young Colossus of a fast bowler.
Obviously, Rabada was asked about his skill to produce yorkers at will. "A yorker can be a high-pressure delivery but it's really very simple. All you have to do is practice it, as simple as that. A yorker is an effort ball, definitely, because you are trying to spear it in in the first six to beat the batter for pace. But I wouldn't say that it is too energy-sapping. I don't think so. It's like bowling a good length ball at a good intensity. You just bowl the yorker at a good intensity," said Rabada.
However against Royal Challengers, Rabada employed a different strategy. The Chinnaswamy pitch was a bit sluggish and outright pace would have worked against him. Thus Rabada came up with a variety of slow balls and cutters while using the high speed ones for an element of surprise. He nearly got the wicket of Kohli with a quick snorter in the eighth over.
Rabada explained his strategy. "It was stopping a little bit, bit too paced. But it wasn't bad for the batsmen to play on. Coming to India, not all pitches are cliche Indian wickets here. Of course there is turn, which means you can use your slower balls because they can grip. All in all, when playing in India, you know there's dry conditions, so you have to use your cutter because they work."
The wicket of AB de Villiers offered a good example. Rabada tested De Villiers with balls that pushed the speed gun above 145 kmph and followed up with a good slow delivery. De Villiers wanted to smash the ball high and long into the long-on stands but failed to time the shot against a ball that gripped the surface.
"It's always good to get wickets in T20. All you try and do is to get the ball in a good area, and try to ensure that the batsman is going to make the mistake. You're not actually trying to get the batter out. You try to see where he's trying to score. He has to take the risk especially in the 18th over. It helps with all the analysis at the moment. Another time, they could've taken six ones and it would have been a different game. But in T20 cricket you want to get wickets and it happened for me in that over. All I tried to do was to keep it simple," said Rabada.
A simple and clear mind. Ability to adapt. They are nice qualities to talk about in a boardroom than actually for a person to possess. Sometimes pressure situations, T20 cricket offers them in plenty, can even prevent a cricketer from executing them. But Rabada has those traits and knows how to tap into them in a tense moment. He's indeed a rare breed!