Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada (AFP)
- Proteas skipper Dean Elgar said they had a tough conversation with Kagiso Rabada that inspired his match-winning spell on the third morning of the Wanderers Test.
- Rabada removed overnight batters Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, and dangerman Rishabh Pant in a spell that changed the shape of the game.
- Proteas coach Mark Boucher admitted it wasn’t the first time a senior bowler needed a harsh word to perform.
Proteas skipper Dean Elgar admitted a fire had been lit in Kagiso Rabada’s belly that inspired him to the three-wicket pre-lunch burst on the third morning that had a telling influence in South Africa’s seven-wicket win against India at the Wanderers on Thursday.
Rabada may have passed Vernon Philander’s 224-Test wicket mark when he prised out Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Rishabh Pant in what became a match-shaping second hour of the third morning, but he was off-colour for the better part of the game.
The Proteas spearhead’s removal of Rahane and Pujara, who put together a 144-ball, 111-run partnership for the third-wicket that threatened to take the game away from the hosts, slowed India down.
With India being bowled out for 266, it left the hosts with a record 240-target, but Elgar’s 96* took care of that.
The Proteas skipper said Rabada responded well to their conversation and it showed in how he attacked India’s senior batters.
“I was someone who went to KG and I told him he’s an immensely respected cricketer and at the moment, he’s not conducting himself well when it comes to performance,” Elgar said.
“I know what KG is capable of and he is world-class and when he’s got his tail up, there’s no better bowler in the world.
“It was a good chat and I can have those chats with KG because he responds to them extremely well as he packs it away, processes it overnight and comes back the next day with a scenario.
“He said I hit the nail on the head and I think he was under-selling his value to the group and I think he can be too relaxed.
“It was a tough-love conversation between KG and I.”
In the post-match TV interview, Proteas coach Mark Boucher admitted that they needed to have the tough chat with Rabada because of the gravity of the position they were in and his status as a match-winning bowler.
“There are certain guys; Dale Steyn was one of them who at certain times in his career needed harsh words behind closed doors to bring the best out of him,” Boucher said in the post-match TV interview.
“KG, that spell he bowled, broke the game open for us. There was a bit of a spark in the dressing room, maybe it was what was needed to get him into that space.
“We know when KG is like that it’s difficult to get the ball away from him but also you want him on your side rather than the opposition team.
“There were fair words that were said and I think he’s taken it on board and we’re hoping we can get him into that sweet spot again for the next Test because it can only bode well for us.”
Scores in brief:
India: 202 all out (KL Rahul 50, Ravichandran Ashwin 46, Marco Jansen 4/31, Duanne Olivier 3/64, Kagiso Rabada 3/64)
SA: 229 all out (Keegan Petersen 62, Temba Bavuma 51, Shardul Thakur 7/61, Mohammed Shami 2/52)
India (2nd innings): 266 all out (Ajinkya Rahane 58, Cheteshwar Pujara 53, Kagiso Rabada 3/77, Lungi Ngidi 3/43, Marco Jansen 3/67)
SA (2nd innings): 243/3 (Dean Elgar 96*, Rassie van der Dussen 40, Ravichandran Ashwin 1/26, Shardul Thakur 1/47)
South Africa won by seven wickets