“Have we found our new superstar?” That was the verdict of former South African captain and fast bowler Shaun Pollock on new Proteas pace bowling sensation Kagiso Rabada’s heroics in the first One-Day International against Bangladesh here in Dhaka.
Pollock was on commentary duty while Rabada tore up the record books on his ODI debut that helped propel South Africa to an eight-wicket victory at the Shera Bangla National Stadium. The 20-year-old from Johannesburg claimed six wickets for just 16 runs to leapfrog West Indian Fidel Edwards’s 6/22 against Zimbabwe back in 2003.
It was comfortably the best figures by a South African on ODI debut too, eclipsing Proteas legend and former national team bowling coach Allan Donald’s 5/29 achieved in South Africa’s first ever official ODI 24 years ago in India. It also bettered Makhaya Ntini’s previous national ODI record for the best bowling performance by a Protea in an ODI.
Rabada’s performance was even more phenomenal as his figures also included a hat trick, and in the process became only the third South African with the distinction of claiming three wickets in successive balls in an ODI, following in the footsteps of his current Proteas bowling mentor Charl Langeveldt and teammate JP Duminy.
Rabada’s hat trick victims were Tamim Iqbal (bowled), Litton Das (caught) and Mahmudullah (lbw). He later claimed the wickets of Soumya Sakar, Bangladeshi captain Mashrafe Mortaza and Jubair Hoosain to complete his half a dozen.
“It is great to do well for your team and put them in a position to win the game,” Rabada said after South Africa closed out an eight-wicket victory. “The hat trick ball … I didn’t know where to bowl. I was thinking bouncer or just a normal good length ball, but then I just went yorker. I missed it by miles. It was a bit of fluke but I will take it.”
Proteas captain Hashim Amla praised the youngster, saying he was “outstanding”, but it was Rabada that was grateful to his senior teammates for assisting him during this fledgling stage of his international career.
“I think it is important to keep the game simple and you just work on hitting a good line and length,” he said. “South Africa is one of the best teams in the world with some of the best players in the world. You would be stupid if you did not want to be a part of this environment. There is so much to learn and I have already learnt so much in my short time with the team,” Rabada added.