IPL 2020: Kagiso Rabada is powering Delhi Capitals ahead

Chandresh Narayanan/Dubai
Filed on October 26, 2020
Kagiso Rabada has become Delhi Capitals' go-to man to achieve breakthroughs in tough situations. — IPL

Rabada has left the other pace bowling rivals-Jofra Archer, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami behind in the race.

It is almost inconceivable to think that two seasons ago Delhi Capitals, in its previous avatar as Delhi Daredevils went through an entire season without their premier bowler.

South Africa’s key paceman Kagiso Rabada pulled out of the 2018 edition with a lower back injury at the time. It dented the Delhi campaign a big time, leading to yet another unsuccessful season for the franchise.

Just over a year ago, Rabada returned to the Delhi franchise under a new management and a new name. Something seemed to have turned the corner for the fast bowler. He was knocking over batsmen with ease and his ability to keep Kolkata Knight Riders’ maverick all-rounder Andre Russell quiet was stuff of legend. Franchise skipper Shreyas Iyer developed an excellent working relationship with Rabada and the South African fast bowler became the go-to man for him to achieve breakthroughs in tough situations.

“KG (Rabada) is the winning artist,” praised Iyer earlier in the season.

Rabada’s performances last season propelled him to the second place in the wicket-takers’ list behind compatriot Imran Tahir. It was very clear that in the 2020 season too he would be the MVP for Iyer’s XI. This season almost on cue Rabada has risen to the challenge and emerged as the leading wicket-taker and the proud holder of the purple cap for over three weeks.

Rabada has left the other pace bowling rivals-Jofra Archer, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami behind in the race. This is a massive achievement for someone who featured in just six of the 14 matches in the 2017 season and missed the entire 2018 season. To emerge in the top two positions in 2019 and 2020 editions is a testament to the man’s temperament.

The emergence of Rabada’s pace twin from South Africa in Anrich Nortje has added to his potency this time around. Nortje has been sending down thunderbolts in the high 150 kmph range and that has helped Rabada too. Together the duo have been rattling batting line-ups this season and making it the most lethal new ball pairing of the season.

“It’s great bowling with him (Rabada), really enjoying the time we spend together. Trying to feed off each other, trying to find out what he thinks, what he does and it’s nice to be in the same team with him,” Nortje said of Rabada. Captain Iyer on his part also feels ‘lucky to have both KG and Nortje in the team’.

Presence of a top-notch former fast bowler in Ryan Harris as the bowling coach has also aided Rabada and Nortje.

Head coach Ricky Ponting, of whom Rabada is a self-confessed fan, cannot stop gushing about his most prized possession. “@KagisoRabada25’s start this season is a great reward for his work, one of the best T20 bowlers in the world,” Ponting had tweeted earlier in the season.

As the pitches during the ongoing season of the IPL gets slower, Rabada with his pace and accuracy will get even more potent. He realises as much because the scores are getting lower and lower making it that much imperative for strike bowlers to create an impact with their performance.

“I don’t really plan to get wickets, but rather to put the team into good positions. All you can do as a bowler is control where the ball is going and I just try to do that to the best of my ability,” said a modest Rabada earlier in the tournament.

Chandresh Narayanan is an Indian cricket author and broadcaster

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