South Africa pacer Kagiso Rabada is targeting his best as the third Test between South Africa and India at Newlands, which serves as the series decider, starts from Tuesday. It also marks the 50th Test appearance of the 26-year-old Rabada.
“As much as it is about taking wickets, it’s about being the best I can be and there’s no limit to that. I feel like I’m nowhere near done. It’s just about coming back and playing the next game. You can never take international cricket for granted. For me it’s about the longevity and not doing it for just a short amount of time. It’s about doing it for a long time and that’s what keeps driving me,” said Rabada to the official website of Cricket South Africa (CSA).
In 49 Test matches, Rabada has picked 229 wickets at an average of 22.57, including 10 five-wicket hauls. “I think it’s quite special. I didn’t even know how many games I was on and only found out after the last Test match that this would be my 50th. It kind of really goes by without noticing. But it’s something special for me, I’ve always wanted to represent my country, so this is definitely a personal milestone and one that I’ll hold dear to my heart,” he said.
Since his Test debut against India at Mohali in 2015, Rabada has become a key figure in South Africa’s bowling attack. Talking about the journey, he pointed out that it hasn’t been a smooth sailing. “There’s been lots of ups and downs, it’s definitely been challenging to keep good performances going for a long amount of time. It’s been tough navigating your way through the lows - I think that’s been quite difficult - and then also trying to get through the external pressures that can influence your game and also influence the team space. Those are things you have to get used to dealing and things you constantly learn how to deal with.”
So, how does the leading wicket taker in the ongoing series against India (13 scalps) motivates himself to do well? “At the end of the day you almost have to remind yourself to keep enjoying it and remember yourself as this youngster who just wanted to represent your country and show the world what you’re about,” observed Rabada.
Rabada counts 2-1 Test series win over Australia in 2016 and a 3-2 ODI series win over India in 2015 as his career highlights till now. “The tours that stand out were when we visited India in 2015 and we became the first South African touring team to beat India in an ODI series away from home. Also when we went to Australia in 2016 when a lot of our players were kind of retiring and we really had to dig deep and ended up winning the series 2-1 away from home. Australia is a big challenge away from home and those two series were the highlights of my career thus far.”
Rabada signed off by expressing gratefulness over playing Test cricket alongside stalwarts such as AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and Dale Steyn. “It’s been an honour and privilege to play alongside those big names,” he said. “I was watching them in school representing their country and I had a burning desire to play at this level and to play with them, some of my heroes, and that’s been really extraordinary. I still pinch myself till this day. I’ve learnt so much from them. It’s what dreams are made of.”