CAPE TOWN, January 6 – South Africa are on the brink of rising to second on the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings, but their goal is on reclaiming that No 1 spot, Kagiso Rabada has said.
South Africa go into Sunday’s Day four of the New Year’s Test in Cape Town just 41 runs away from making it 2-0 in the series against Pakistan. As per the rankings predictor function, that should carry them to second on the rankings chart, while a 3-0 win could take them to within one point of India, who are at No 1.
Rabada, who took four wickets in Pakistan’s second innings to keep them to 294 on Saturday, 5 January, said winning overseas was important to the team, but first, they wanted to make their home grounds “a fortress”.
“Faf mentioned before we started this series that yes we want to win every single game, but at home, we want to be unbeaten,” he said. “It’s something that we want to take forward.
“Ultimately, our goal is to be the No 1 team in the world. We want to make this a fortress. So far so good. But we also want to win overseas. It’s what the past players have done, not losing overseas for such a long time, and it’s something that’s important to us too.”
Playing at home means given their plethora of pace riches, the Test matches unfold on spicy tracks that make life difficult for the batsmen. Home batsmen like Dean Elgar too have admitted that “it’s hard work batting in South Africa”. Rabada agreed it was difficult, but not impossible.
“I think the pitches have done a bit, but when the batsmen have applied themselves, they’ve scored runs. Right from [series against] India, through to Australia and now against Pakistan. It shows that when you are prepared to fight in the middle, you will get runs,” he said.
“When the batsmen have applied themselves, they’ve scored runs”
In the Pakistan series, he pointed out, “Faf [du Plessis] got a hundred, there were two 70s – Aiden [Markram] and Temba [Bavuma] – a fifty from Quinton [de Kock].
Even in Centurion, you had Imam-ul-Haq, he batted well, Shan Masood batted well, batted well again today, [Asad] Shafiq. It shouldn’t be too easy to score runs in Test cricket!”
Insisting it wasn’t easy for the bowlers too, he added, “We had to show a lot of resilience, but that’s Test cricket.”
On the third day of the second Test, Masood, Shafiq and Babar Azam brought up half-centuries, fighting to push the game to the fourth day.
While in the first innings South Africa had used movement and the bouncer to good effect to have the visitors dismissed for 177, they needed to be more patient and probing in the second innings where the pitch got easier for batsmen.
“We toiled. [It] was a toiling day, but it wouldn’t be Test cricket if it was too easy. What’s important is that we showed resilience,” continued the young pacer.
“We needed to outlast them. Not breaking, and waiting for that breakthrough. Once it came, we were back in the game. It’s very hard to get in on this wicket, and that’s something Faf kept reminding us about.” (ANA)