With the absence of top-notch pacers Anrich Nortje and Sisanda Magala in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, the responsibility of leading the pace attack falls on Kagiso Rabada’s shoulders.
Optimism Despite Key Player Absence
Rabada, despite the absence of key players, maintains a positive outlook on South Africa’s World Cup prospects. The Proteas are yet to claim the prestigious trophy, but Rabada is determined to change that.
“As South Africans, we have never lacked belief. We are confident that we can win the tournament,” Rabada expressed.
“We have the talent to do so. Our aim is to reach our first final and win this competition. It’s going to be challenging, but also incredibly enjoyable,” he added.
South Africa’s Impressive ODI Form
The Proteas have shown excellent ODI form recently, with a notable 3-2 victory against Australia after initially trailing 2-0. Since the beginning of the year, South Africa has not lost an ODI series, earning them the No.4 spot in the MRF Tyres Men’s ICC Team Rankings as they head into the World Cup.
Rabada’s Second World Cup Appearance
This will be Rabada’s second World Cup appearance, following a less than stellar performance in 2019 where he secured only 11 wickets in nine games, and South Africa finished seventh out of ten teams.
Rabada openly acknowledged his previous shortcomings and is eager to rectify them in the upcoming tournament.
“The 2019 World Cup was my first, and I wasn’t successful,” Rabada admitted. “I learned that team cohesion is crucial because World Cups are won by teams, not individuals.”
Rabada’s Leadership Role
With increasing experience and caps, Rabada recognises his leadership role within the team. “I want to help shape our collective play by understanding and reinforcing my strengths, knowing what motivates me, and listening to other players,” he said.
Understanding Indian Conditions
Rabada’s experience, having played 27 international games across formats in India and multiple stints in the Indian Premier League, will be crucial for the bowling group. South Africa has also frequently travelled to India, playing 11 white-ball games since the start of 2022.
“Understanding the conditions of various grounds and having played in India for several years provides familiarity with tactics,” Rabada concluded.
“Most of our team has played in India, but it’s important to share experiences with those who haven’t. In India, the conditions are drier and the wickets favour batters, so it’s about finding ways to succeed.”
Managing Distractions and Maintaining Focus
Rabada emphasised the importance of managing distractions and maintaining focus amidst the noise. “Playing in packed stadiums with tens of thousands of screaming fans is an honour, but it’s crucial not to let the crowd get to you,” he said.
South Africa’s World Cup Campaign
South Africa will kick off their World Cup campaign against Sri Lanka on 7 October in Delhi. Prior to that, they will play two warm-up games, the first against Afghanistan on 29 September, followed by New Zealand on 2 October.