Away from de Villiers row, fighting Rabada hopeful of South Africa’s revival
Kagiso Rabada believes South Africa can still do it. (AFP Image)

SOUTHAMPTON: South Africa entered the World Cup not having lost an ODI series in 12 months. But just like that, three defeats from three matches have pretty much once again highlighted South Africa’s lapses when it comes to the World Cup. One more loss and the semi-finalists of the last two World Cups could well have their campaign cut short.

In a scenario where the team is battling a range of issues – the batting is fragile and their fast bowling unit unfit, Kagiso Rabada remains hopeful. In the previous game, against India, Rabada delivered a fiery spell up front, sending early “awakeners” to the openers. With Dale Steyn ruled out and no clarity over Lungi Ngidi’s fitness, Rabada, in a way, is the last man standing… and is expecting a South African resurgence against West Indies on Monday at the Ageas Bowl.

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“We are very hopeful. I think we’ve played two of the best teams in the world. Bangladesh, we felt that we might have been a bit complacent, we talked about it, but we played England where actually we felt we really could have won that game,” said Rabada.

“India, we took it right to the death, but I think that’s just in our DNA as South Africans. The way we play our cricket, you know, we are always there. If you look at how we play our cricket, we never give up. So, we need a few things to click and we are working our way around it. And so we are looking to turn it around tomorrow.”

Rabada’s spell was equally forceful as Mitchell’s Starc 4 for 46 against Australia, and on par with Jasprit Bumrah’s against his own team. Add to that Jofra Archer’s fabulous bowling against South Africa and Bangladesh and suddenly modern-day cricket’s fast bowling stocks look mighty impressive.

Away from all the stir caused by the who AB de Villiers situation, Rabada explained how watching his peers excel gets him to bring out the best.

“To be honest, I don’t know much about what’s happening, so I don’t want to talk about things that I don’t know,” he said, before talking about his contemporaries.

“I think they are all phenomenal bowlers. I admire watching other bowlers bowl. I think it’s nice to see other people do well, not against us though. So, I mean, at the end of the day, I focus on what I need to do. Everyone as cricketers, we have our aspirations. We want to achieve certain goals and I don’t think it’s put any pressure on me, no. Because I know exactly what I want to get out of the game, so it shouldn’t put any pressure on me what they do.

“I guess when you do admire another sportsman, it does inspire you. So it’s nice to see people do well because it can inspire you. But I don’t think it puts pressure on me. And I think I’ve played this game long enough to know that when things happen for you, they happen for you.

“Sometimes you bowl like rubbish and then you pick up a five-for and it’s… I know it’s a cliche, but I have experienced that. And sometimes you bowl well and you don’t get as many wickets as you’re hoping for, or, you know, you’re just out of luck, catches are being dropped. It happens. And that’s really frustrating.”

South Africa must be feeling surreal watching the West Indies boast a fast bowling attack, which, after Steyn and Ngidi’s injuries, is shaping up better than theirs. It was displayed against Pakistan, where Oshane Thomas and Jason Holder claimed shared seven wickets to bundle out Pakistan for 106.

Even against Australia, they made early in-roads reducing the top-order to 38 for 4 before some lower-order resistance lifted the innings. It’s a threat South Africa should be wary of as they try and save their World Cup campaign, with Rabada stated that as much as West Indies’ bowlers have impressed him, his focus is to knock over the opposition’s batting.

“Am I focussed on their fast bowlers? The batsmen should be focussed on their fast bowlers. I’m focussed on their batters because my job is to get their batters out. I don’t know what I must think about their bowlers going into the game. I’m not thinking too much about their bowlers. It’s not my job to think about their bowlers,” he added.

“I guess it’s nice to watch when they play, you know. They’ve got some good pace. Youngsters. The West Indies have always had fast bowlers. Everyone knows about the Marshalls, the Holdings. So it’s a culture, a culture of fast bowling in the West Indies and, yeah, it is nice to see. It is good for cricket.

“It is good to see fast bowlers still around and especially for West Indies cricket.”