Photo Credit: BCCI
Kagiso Rabada believes he is ready to spearhead a rejuvenated South African attack to their first ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup trophy.
The Proteas failed to advance beyond the group stage four years ago but are yet to taste a series defeat in ODIs this year.
Injuries to fellow quicks Anrich Nortje and Sisanda Magala have dealt a blow to the team’s hopes, but that has done little to quell Rabada’s optimism.
“One thing we have never lacked as South Africans is belief, so going into the tournament we do believe we can win it,” said Rabada, whose side begin their campaign against Sri Lanka in Delhi on 7 October.
“We’ve got the players to do so, so hopefully we can make our first final and win this competition.
“It’s going to be hard but it’s going to be really enjoyable.
“It’s exciting to have the best players in the world playing against each other competing for one prize, and we are up for the challenge.”
The four-time semi-finalists struggled in 2019 but have since risen to fourth in the MRF Tyres Men’s ODI Team Rankings, and are full of confidence after a 3-2 series victory over Australia.
Twenty-eight-year-old Rabada, who is one of eight survivors from the squad who competed in England four years ago, is relishing the responsibility of being one of the team’s elder statesmen and helping captain Temba Bavuma plot the team’s path to success.
“The 2019 World Cup was my first and I wasn’t successful at all,” Rabada continued.
“The lesson I took from that is that team cohesion is the most important factor, because individuals don’t win World Cups, teams do.
“The older I have become and the more caps I have, the more I realise that I am a leader in that environment.
“Through knowing my own strengths and reinforcing them, knowing what makes me tick and through lending an ear to other players, I want to help set how we play as a collective.”
Rabada also boasts a strong knowledge of subcontinent conditions, having excelled across several seasons in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
His national side have also played 11 white-ball matches in India since the beginning of last year and he feels their collective experience could set them apart from the rest.
“It does help when you understand the conditions in the various grounds, and having played in India for all these years, it gives you a familiarity on how to go about your tactics,” he added.
“The majority of our team has played in India, but for those who haven’t played as much, it is important to share experiences.
“In India you have drier conditions and they are batter-friendly wickets, so it’s about finding ways to be successful.
“Managing the noise and distractions is really important and I think it’s just about focus and not letting the crowd get to you.
“But at the same time, it is exciting to be playing in packed stadiums with tens of thousands of screaming fans – it’s an honour.”