Cape Town - Proteas spearhead Kagiso Rabada will play his 50th Test in the series decider against India at Newlands on Tuesday.
IOL Sport’s Zaahier Adams chooses five of his best performances in his celebrated career thus far.
1. 9-13 March 2018: 2nd Test, v Australia, Port Elizabeth: 5/69, 29 & 6/54
There is something about the Australians that gets “KG” riled up like no other and he has traditionally kept his most stellar performances for the Baggy Greens. This was a particularly fiery display, bordering on the very edge, coming immediately on the back of the David Warner staircase incident at Kingsmead the week before.
Rabada was filled with rage and let loose against the Aussies and picked up the big wickets of Warner and Steve Smith early doors that flung this St George’s Park Test match wide open.
He was particularly pleased with Smith’s dismissal and promptly let the Australian skipper know his feelings whilst brushing his shoulder in celebration setting off all sorts of drama. This was to be Rabada’s Test though as he ripped through with a match haul of 11/123 in addition to an invaluable 29 as the nightwatchman.
2. 22-26 January 2016: 4th Test v England, Centurion: 7/112 & 6/32
Even at the tender age of just 20 years old, Rabada was already capable of taking on the mantle of leading the South African attack.
In the absence of legends such as Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, he drove the Proteas to a consolation victory over England with a career-best 13-wicket haul at SuperSport Park to announce himself as a genuine superstar on the global stage.
3. 2-6 January 2017: 2nd Test v Sri Lanka, Cape Town: 4/37 & 6/55
When Rabada gets on a roll, there is no stopping him as he often goes “Bang, Bang, Bang!”
This is exactly what he did in the 2017 New Year Test against the hapless Sri Lankans. Following on from a first innings “four-fer” to help roll Sri Lanka for just 110, he completed the series victory with another six-wicket haul.
4. 3-7 November 2016: 1st Test v Australia, Perth: 2/78 & 5/92
Easily the most lion-hearted display of KG’s career. After Dale Steyn broke down in the first innings with a shoulder injury, the Proteas were down to two seamers in Rabada and Philander.
The young stallion, though, drew on all on his energy reserves in the second innings at the Waca to produce a gladiatorial display of fast bowling in the searing Perth heat to drive the Proteas to a memorable victory.
It certainly earned the approval of Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis, who planted a fat kiss on Rabada’s forehead in appreciation.
5. January 3 – 6 2022: 2nd Test v India, Johannesburg: 3/64 & 3/77
On the surface these figures don’t look all that impressive and there have been many times that Rabada has claimed more wickets.
But in the context of Rabada’s own career, the series against India, and even the greater whole of South African cricket, there have been few more important wickets taken. Unlike in previous years, Rabada has experienced a lean trot of late which has mirrored South Africa’s results.
The Proteas desperately needed their dragon to snort fire at the Bullring. And after a frank discussion with captain Dean Elgar, he duly delivered with a burst in the second innings that breathed fresh life into the entire psyche of the cricket loving public in the country as it gave everyone the belief that the Proteas could once again go toe-to-toe with the big dogs.