Photo Credit: SA20 League
Chants of “Kay-Gee”, as he is affectionately known, rang around Centurion with gusto as Proteas fans belted out the name of their hero with plenty of excitement on Boxing Day.
They had plenty of opportunities to do so, five golden times in fact, with Rabada claiming his 14th Test five-wicket haul on the opening day of the Test series against India.
He also passed 500 international wickets on the day.
“Summer vibes in South Africa and cricket season is always awesome. I’m not sure how many beers they were down, but I think quite a few. They were having a great time at the cricket and it’s so lovely to see,” Rabada said.
“I had to pinch myself at a stage. It was basically a packed house. The last time we played a Test here, against West Indies [in February and March], it was nowhere near half-full. Before that we played against India [in December 2021 during lockdown] and there was literally no-one in the stands. So it’s great to see. Festive season in South Africa is fantastic, and I felt that vibe.”
The stage has certainly been set for Betway SA20 Season 2, which gets underway in just under a fortnight on January 10 at St George’s Park in Gqeberha, with fans expected to stream through the turnstiles in their numbers for the opening game of the tournament.
Rabada is expected to be in action the following day for MI Cape Town when they travel to Kingsmead to face the Durban’s Super Giants before another likely full house.
Although Rabada will be on the opposing side for that encounter, there’s no doubt the locals will appreciate watching the fast bowling legend in full flow, especially as he now seems reinvigorated after a five-week break since the World Cup in India.
It certainly showed in his Day 1 performance, where he claimed 5/44, which also bodes well for MI Cape Town who will be desperate for a fit and firing Rabada in Season 2.
“All week the ball’s been coming out nicely. I was focused in my training; I knew what I wanted to get out of it. So I came into the match quite confident. I’m just glad the focused work, the hard work, paid off. My body and my mind were feeling good coming into this Test series,” Rabada said.
There is little doubt that of the five wickets which Rabada claimed, the prized one was that of former India captain and global superstar Virat Kohli when he angled a full delivery into off stump that managed to find the faintest of edges.
“It just swung away late,” Rabada said. “Most of the time he covers that channel or plays and misses. He’s a fantastic player, and against him you really have to be on. So I’m glad I got the fainty there.”