South African bowling coach Charl Langeveldt believes youngster Kagiso Rabada can fill in for the injured Dale Steyn after the 21-year old tore apart the Australian top order in the second innings at Perth.
Rabada lit up the WACA Stadium late on the fourth day with a dazzling spell of fast bowling, that saw him pick the important wickets of opener Shaun Marsh (15), captain Steve Smith (34) and Adam Voges (1) leaving the Proteas on the verge of a famous victory. Rabada finished the day with 3 wickets for 49 from 16 overs.
Former bowler turned coach Langeveldt said that he had spoken to Rabada before the beginning of this crucial series about the challenges that lie ahead for the Johannesburg lad. "I told him that you will be tested here because Australia play their cricket hard," he said. "I told him that your first season is your easiest season but that the second season people will work you out. He is the type of bowler who wants to improve.”
"He is a quick learner and asks a lot of questions and is very knowledgeable about the game," Langeveldt added. “(Bowling) 145km as a 21-year-old is always exciting."
South Africa were without the services of spearhead Dale Steyn after he sustained an injury on day two and are left with just three frontline bowlers in Vernon Philander, Rabada and the left-arm debutant Keshav Maharaj. With a handicapped attack, it has meant more pressure on Rabada's shoulders but the seamer has stood up to the challenge showing with his displays that he can be the new leader of the Proteas bowling attack.
"Dale Steyn is a massive loss to South Africa but Rabada has done it before and today he has stepped up again," he said.
Captain Faf du Plessis had to dig deep in his reserves and make use of fringe bowlers like Stephen Cook as a bowling option, so that his frontline pacers Philander and Rabada, were afforded some rest. Langeveldt said he had spoken with the part-timers in case such a situation arose. "Talked (to them) about reversing, keep the seam up, the more the seam up is pronounced," he said.
He also expressed his pleasure with South African batters, who made sure the Aussie bowlers had to toil hard. "Australia had to bowl for four days. The bowlers needed a rest when Dale Steyn wasn't going to play the rest of the game," he said. "The batters stepped up."