Kagiso Rabada chose the day when South Africa’s pace bowling reserves were brought into question at the World Cup to announce himself as the potential successor to Dale Steyn with a magnificent nine-wicket haul to bowl the bizhub Highveld Lions to a crunching win over the Dolphins in their Sunfoil Series match at the Wanderers on Sunday.
Rabada took nine for 33 in 16.2 overs – the sixth-best innings figures in the history of domestic A Section cricket in South Africa – to give him a brilliant match analysis of 14 for 105.
This is the best return in the history of franchise cricket, improving on the 14 for 110 Steyn himself took for the Titans against the Eagles in Bloemfontein in 2007/8.
Rabada’s extraordinary performance – three of his victims were caught behind the wicket, three were bowled and one was trapped lbw – skittled the Dolphins for 134 in their second innings.
This meant that the Lions had a nominal target of 16 to win the game, which openers Stephen Cook and Rassie van der Dussen quickly knocked off for a 10-wicket win that increases their lead at the top of the log to just over 17 points.
And it wasn’t the case that Rabada took advantage of a Wanderers greentop either: there was some steep bounce, but apart from that the enormously-talented 19-year-old showed his ability to get swing, hit good areas and bowled with impressive pace on a flattish pitch.
Rabada made an early start to his amazing demolition job when he removed Daniel Sincuba (4), edging a lovely away-swinger to wicketkeeper Dominic Hendricks, with his second ball of the day.
An over from Rabada went by without incident, but he then picked up another scalp in his third over of the day, Cody Chetty (5) edging an easy catch to first slip.
An exceptional catch by Van der Dussen at backward point gave Rabada his fourth wicket, Morne van Wyk dismissed for seven, and the St Stithians product marked the occasion of his maiden 10-wicket match haul by shattering the stumps of Keshav Maharaj (5), who was way too late on his shot.
Graham Hume was trapped on the crease and lbw for nought, while opener Divan van Wyk, who held on for 204 minutes in scoring 56, eventually played on.
History was then made on the famous Wanderers turf when Tshepo Moreki was bowled for 2 and last man Daryn Dupavillon (0) spliced a simple return catch to Rabada, who is the youngest South African to take 13 wickets in a first-class match.
He joins an elite group of just 25 other bowlers who have taken 14 wickets or more and there can be no doubt Rabada is on his way to even greater things.