Kagiso Rabada continued his productive Test © AFP
Faf du Plessis has called Kagiso Rabada the “perfect bowler for a captain” following the 282-run domination of Sri Lanka at Newlands, which he labelled a “perfect performance”. Rabada had not been at his quickest in Port Elizabeth, where he took four wickets at an average of 35, but was easily the most impressive South Africa seamer on the faster Newlands pitch, where he claimed match figures of 10 for 92, and a Man-of-the-Match award.
“It was an amazing bowling performance from Kagiso,” du Plessis said. “Look, even when he’s bowling not so well, as a captain I’m really happy to have in my team. He’s just a guy that tries really hard. He’s never got any dramas. Basically the perfect bowler for a captain, because exactly what I ask him to do, he does. If I say I want him to bowl a thousand short balls in a row, he’ll do it. That’s the kind of bowler he is. That works well with me because I can work on a plan with him. He’s an extreme talent South Africa. He’s going to be very valuable to us in the future – to make sure he plays a lot of cricket for us.”
Among the concerns about Rabada, however, is his high workload. Though he only made his international debut in mid-2015, Rabada was a fixture in South Africa’s teams for all three formats last year – in which he played each of South Africa’s nine Tests, 15 of their 17 ODIs and eight of their nine T20Is. Rabada faces the possibility of playing continuously in all three formats as South Africa seek to fulfil their transformation quotas, but du Plessis suggested this this was a workload he can handle, for now. He is not expecting Rabada to be rested for the dead rubber at the Wanderers.
“We’ll only leave KG out if there are injury concerns,” he said. “If the medical staff feels he needs it. If he doesn’t need it from an injury point of view, I would say: ‘no’. For me it’s really important to make sure we keep winning Test matches.
“I can understand the importance of resting players – yes there is a place for that. But I don’t think KG is there yet. Every fast bowler needs to bowl. As you saw in this Test match KG was double the bowler he was in the previous one just because he started bowling again. He would be the first to say that as well, and will want to play that next Test definitely.”
South Africa were never put under pressure while they were in the field, but had briefly been in trouble with the bat, when Sri Lanka had them 66 for 3 on the first morning, and then 169 for 5 that afternoon. They would go on to post 392 in the first innings, however, and du Plessis lauded the mettle of the batsmen who saw South Africa through the minor wobbles.
“On a tough wicket Dean Elgar batted excellently. For an opening batsman to get a 100 on a wicket like that was great batting. Our whole batting unit put on a decent total in the first innings. It was great from our batters. From then we were in a dominant position. When there are those moments in the game when we are under pressure, every time we’ve stood up. Every single time it’s somebody different, and for me as a captain, that makes it easy.”
Rabada and Vernon Philander shared seventeen wickets between them, while Keshav Maharaj took the remaining three. Though Kyle Abbott did not take a wicket in either innings, in what transpired to be his final Test, he had nevertheless been miserly, conceding runs at 2.39 an over.
“It’s pretty much the perfect performance, to be honest. There’s nothing that didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. All the plans – everything worked out perfectly. Even the declaration – we got it spot on. We thought it would take till day four lunch in a perfect world, and it did work out that way. We lost the toss on a green wicket. The plan was to try and be a little bit better than we were in Port Elizabeth, and we did that.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo