Kagiso Rabada is the Black Panther of world cricket. Strong, fast, skillful and always surprises you something different.
Somewhere in the deep forests of Southern Africa, two eyes are focused to fulfil his wish. There are no movements of upper eyelids for a single moment, but his determination was so strong, the muscles of eyelids remained stagnant. He knows he’s different from other big cats. He is more of an ambush predator and relies more on a surprising element and would sneak up on his prey. Attacking from the bushes by running after the prey is too old-fashioned for him and thus, he prefers to stalk through trees and across ledges.
The night gets deeper. There is a horrifying silence around the forest. The timid deer did not even hear the sound of trees when he jumped into that trunk nearby. The silence of the forest is a killer and not even the owl is making a single sound. The owl is stunned by the plan of the Black Panther to hunt his prey.
The Deer is enjoying the silence of the forest all alone. All of a sudden, the black cat jumps over his prey. He grabs the prey with his claws and applies the suffocating neck-biting. He knows how stronger, he is than the other cats and possesses the power and skill to hunt down his prey eloquently than a Cheetah, Lion or Royal Bengal Tiger.
The Deer shunned the hope of trying to escape – in fact, he did not get the time to think about the situation and breathed his last to become the supper of the hungry Black Panther.
The conditions were hot and humid on Day 4 of second Test against Australia at Port Elizabeth. For a young, fast bowler ageing 22, it’s never easy to maintain his stamina and focus in such a sultry condition. But still, Kagiso Rabada is such a hard nut to crack, he doesn’t bog down easily. His focus and stamina remain steady under any circumstances. Be it, the ICC verdict, warning from a match referee or getting hit by a batsman doesn’t deter him from his goal – like a Black Panther, his eyes don’t move but keep on reading the batsmen and match situation. For him, reverse swing is not the way, but relying on his own skills and element of surprise like the Black Panther is the way to hunt.
The Australian tail wags. It wagged at Durban and one could not deny the fact, Mitchell Marsh, the ever-improved cricketer in the last twelve months, is well capable of stitching another partnership with Tim Paine and bat South Africa out of this game. And when Marsh executed that aerial drive in the second ball of Day 4, the signs were ominous. The fans thought Australia might take the upper hand in first session.
But like a Black Panther, Rabada lets his prey bask in the glory and relish the moment. He knows, his element of surprise would give him the scope of celebrating like never before. And, it came in no time.
The last ball of the over was a jaffa! It pitched on a fourth stump line, nipped off the seam after landing on the back of a length and beat Marsh’s defence to leave him stunned! The shiny side of the ball was directed towards leg side which surprised him as he thought, Rabada might pitch it in and around middle and leg, but it pitched on a fourth stump line and disturbed the timber.
The Black Panther was on song!
In a quick succession, he ended the stay of Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, who are known to be stubborn tail-enders. The wicket of Starc gave Rabada his 11-wicket haul of the match. He bowled with a lot of hostility and intent yesterday to nail the Australian batsmen. Especially against Steve Smith, he was a fast bowler who meant business. Steve was exposed by Rabada and the man for whom, even a score of fifty is taken as a below-par performance, surrendered against the Black Panther.
The hunting of prey was done and it was time to relish the moment. It was time to watch his teammates enjoy the comeback after the heavy defeat at Durban. South Africa levelled the series and would move on for the next Test with a recharged confidence.
The spoilsport ICC rules are there to hamper the wonderful mood, but Rabada is a Black Panther. He is not bothered by such obstacles but would maintain his focus on nailing the batters n upcoming matches. Surely, he would bask in the glory of his skills and astonishing wicket-taking abilities at an age when the greats like Glenn McGrath, James Anderson and Courtney Walsh were struggling to find their feet in international cricket.