On a pitch where Bangladeshi bowlers struggled to get something out, Kagiso Rabada stood out with his accuracy and discipline. On a pitch, where South African batsmen scripted records, Bangladeshi batsmen failed to stand their ground barring Liton Das. On a pitch, where Mushfiqur Rahim predicted to get help for the seamers and opted to field first, turned out to be a batting paradise for South Africa and a minefield for Bangladeshi batsmen.
After posting a gigantic total of 573/4 dec. in the first innings, South African bowlers wreaked havoc and derailed Bangladesh for 147. South Africa imposed the follow-on and Bangladesh now have a mountain to climb in the second innings. South African seamers were outstanding and did a collective job in dismantling Bangladesh to such a modest total.
This was the first occasion since 2007 when South Africa were fielding without any of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. There was pressure on the Inexperienced South African pace attack to deliver, with Rabada being at the front. But, it is often said – pressure gets the best out of an individual, or a team. Rabada led the pace attack with example and infused momentum with his guile.
Morne Morkel was devastating in the first Test, picking early wickets. But a mistimed injury ruled him out of the second Test. Although South African attack had the potential, not many thought of them doing so well in the first innings. Bangladesh got a decent total of 320 in the first innings at Potchefstroom and were expected to do a similar job on a surface that looked conducive for batting, when South Africa were scoring runs.
Barring Temba Bavuma, every South African batsmen garnered runs. South Africa had four centurions from the six who batted, which speaks about the dominance they had. These numbers suggest that the pitch had enough help for the batsmen, but Bangladesh didn’t manage to make the most of it.
Bangladesh were without Tamim Iqbal, which was a huge loss. Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes opened the batting while South Africa had Rabada and Duanne Olivier to share the new ball. South Africa needed early wickets while Bangladesh required a solid opening stand to put up a fight and build a base.
In the seventh over, Rabada bowled Soumya Sarkar around the legs and drew the first blood. Olivier and Wayne Parnell did well in getting the next three after which, Rabada got rid of a well set Imrul Kayes to see Bangladesh staring down the barrel at 61 for 5.
Things went from bad to worse for Bangladesh when Sabbir Rahman chipped a full delivery straight to Parnell at cover. Taijul Islam and Liton Das showed resistance and didn’t make batting look tough like their top-order did. Liton Das was the only half-centurion from Bangladeshi innings and did well in pouncing on the opportunities provided.
Rabada scalped his fourth wicket when Liton was caught in the slip cordon by Faf du Plessis. Rubel Hossain showed good intent, but a deadly in-swinging yorker by Rabada ended his run for 10. This was the kind of delivery, which could have got rid of most of the batsman in Test cricket. With Rubel’s dismissal, Rabada claimed his sixth five-wicket haul in Test cricket and also became the leading wicket-taker in the ongoing calendar year with 49 scalps under his belt.
42.5 overs were all Bangladesh managed to confront at the crease. Rabada was the wrecker-in-chief and was well supported by Olivier from the other end. South Africa gained a massive 426-run lead and imposed the follow-on.
South Africa have had a reputation of producing amazing pace bowlers. And Rabada is a fantastic contribution to international cricket. He is genuinely quick and has shown signs of a leader at a tender age of 22. He has the skills, he has the hunger and is tipped to be the next leader of the pack for South Africa. His presence provides solid stability and attacking option, which will only do good for South Africa in the matches to come.
As of now, he has done a commendable in the absence of Morkel, Steyn and a Philander. He will be the man to watch out for when the second innings resume as South Africa are on the brink of an another Test victory, by an innings probably.