Rabada - fast and furious

South Africa's Kagiso Rabada (centre) is a lethal package with his pace, skills and aggression. Reuters

Pacers Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada are both racing against time in order to be fit for South Africa’s blockbuster opening World Cup game against England on May 30 but there’s no doubt whom the team management and fans must be more concerned about.

Ever since he first grabbed headlines with a blistering 6/25 effort in the Under-19 World Cup semifinal against Australia in 2014, Rabada has usurped everyone in blazing quick fashion to become South Africa’s premier pacer at a tender age of 23 (he’ll turn a year older on May 25).

Blessed with hostile pace, skills that betray his age, control that has bamboozled world-class batsmen and innate aggression that has landed him in trouble with match referees on a few occasions, Rabada is one hell of a package.

Another thing that makes Rabada so potent is his ability to swing the ball — conventional and reverse — as well as hit the deck hard when conditions don’t aid movement. He’s great at the start and has improved his death bowling skills immensely — remember the yorker against Andre Russell in the just-concluded IPL — to emerge as one of best young pacers in the world now.

“We’ve seen players come in, show signs of extreme excellence and then fade away, but KG is someone we can get used to,” said Steyn of Rabada last month. “You look at KG (Rabada), he’s been bowling exceptionally well. Kagiso is a wonderkid. Just hope he continues that kind of form. He’s come on to the scene in international cricket and grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He's way better than me. I have obviously got my records and everything but he's way better than I am right now.”

Such high praise from a fellow peer who was once the best pacer in the world speaks volumes of Rabada’s talent. At an age when most bowlers are still developing, Rabada already looks like a great product. Apart from his bowling skills, what South Africa will be banking at is his in-your-face aggression. A lot will be hinging on Rabada this World Cup but like he delivered for the Proteas as a precocious teenager in 2014, he’s got the ability to deliver in England.

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