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Rabada had been the only bright spot for South Africa in a disastrous display at Galle…..

Kagiso Rabada scripted history by becoming the youngest Test cricketer to have scalped 150 wickets. He achieved the milestone at 23 years and 50 days, bettering the previously held record of Harbhajan Singh at 23 years and 106 days. When Rabada got the better of Dilruwan Perera in the second innings of the Galle Test, he made a name for himself. Although South Africa suffered a tragic defeat, but Rabada was the shining light, he ended the game with 7 wickets under his belt. He achieved this milestone in just 31 games for South Africa.

Till date Rabada has 150 wickets to his name at a staggering average of 21.21 and a healthy strike rate of 38.45. Rabada is undoubtedly one of the most deadly bowlers in contemporary cricket, banking on accuracy and sheer pace along with immaculate control, the lanky fast bowler has been a force to be reckoned. Quite capable of swinging the ball both ways, he has been the reason behind nightmares for several batsmen.

South Africa have a reputation of producing menacing fast bowlers and Rabada’s addition is a testament to it. Since his inception in international side, Rabada was tipped to be the next big thing in South African cricket, and by looking at the way things have fared for him so far, he will certainly fulfill the promise. He is equally effective across formats and has adjusted well in different conditions. Coming back to the Test, Sri Lanka was never going to be favourable for the seamers. Prior to the start of the game Rabada did admit that he wasn’t confident. He recovered well from the back injury and the pressure of delivering in taxing conditions was always going to be on him.

“Coming to this Test match, I wasn’t feeling very confident. I wasn’t feeling bad but I wasn’t feeling good either. So I just tried to hit a good length. Luckily enough I got the first wicket and then in the second spell, two wickets in three balls, it doesn’t always happen but I’ll take it and I’m glad,” Rabada was quoted in a report from sport24.co.za.

Rabada is at the apex on the list of best ICC Test bowlers and showed why he is a deadly weapon in the 1st innings. Rabada steamed in and accounted for four Sri Lankan wickets in the first innings and set the tone for South Africa. Their bowlers did well to chip wickets at regular intervals but Karunaratne’s scintillating century made the difference. South Africa was undone for 126 in the first innings and the pressure of cleaning Sri Lanka early was again on South African bowlers.

Rabada led the bowling attack with unmatched confidence and once again meant business. He had three wickets in the second innings while Keshav Maharaj was the pick of the bowlers with for scalps. Sri Lanka were undone for 190 and South Africa had a mountain to climb in the fourth innings. Sri Lanka turned out to be too hot to handle for South Africa as they won the game by 278 runs. South African bowlers did an outstanding job but the failure of their batting department cost them dearly. It was beautiful to watch a seamer picking wickets on a docile surface. He was the high wicket-taker as a seamer in this Test, which speaks about his impact.

One can expect South Africa to bounce back in the second game if their batsmen get the required runs. On a surface which had little help for the seamers Rabada made the utmost use of some bounce to pick seven wickets. Rabada will have a crucial role to play in the 2nd test where South Africa will give it all to make a comeback. If South African spinners managed to inflict similar damage in the 2nd Test, one can only expect Rabada to return with better numbers. He is always on a learning curve and grows with every outing.

Mitchell Starc of Australia wreaked havoc when Australia toured Sri Lanka back in 2016. The left-arm pacer showed a different set of skills on spin-friendly wickets to have impressive numbers to his name. One can expect Rabada to have a similar impact in this series. The only place where South Africa need to pull up is their batting. With age being on this side, one can only expect Rabada to get better and this 150 wickets milestone is just another stepping stone in his career. His potential is limitless and has a lot to offer to international cricket in the years to come.

With Steyn being in the twilight of his career, and Morne Morkel retired, all eyes are on Rabada. Along with Vernon Philander, Rabada has shouldered the responsibility well, but the challenge will only get tougher. After AB de Villiers’ retirement, South African batting looks little vulnerable, which in a way puts more pressure on the blowing unit. As of now, the onus of making a comeback is on South Africa.

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