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Ken Borland

Rabada cleared for takeoff, while Markram finally stops scratching around subcontinent airport rubbish bins 0

Posted on February 01, 2021 by Ken

Kagiso Rabada and Aiden Markram were team-mates when South Africa won the U19 World Cup in 2014 and the fast bowler’s career took off immediately as he made his international debut for the Proteas nine months later in a T20 in Australia and has maintained a stratospheric altitude ever since. Markram has looked like a jet fighter pilot at home, but in Asia he has scratched around like the person who cleans the rubbish bins at the airport.

But there was joy for them both in Karachi on Thursday on the third day of the first Test against Pakistan as Rabada claimed his 200th Test wicket and Markram made his first half-century on the subcontinent.

Rabada (27-7-70-3) was the shining light in a bowling attack that travelled far and wide on the third morning as Pakistan’s tail thrashed 70 runs in 12.2 overs to stretch their lead to a commanding 158. He is the eighth South African to reach the landmark, and in terms of balls bowled (8154) he is the third fastest overall, behind only Pakistani Waqar Younis (7730) and compatriot Dale Steyn (7848).

Markram then showed great composure and shot-selection as he scored a five-hour 74; with Rassie van der Dussen (64) they erased the deficit with a courageous second-wicket stand of 129. But the day ended as badly for South Africa as it had begun, with Pakistan claiming three wickets for 12 runs to reduce them to 187 for four at stumps, a lead of just 29 with both set batsmen out.

“We definitely believe the match is still winnable. If anything the pitch is going to deteriorate more and the variable bounce will play more of a role. Wickets can fall in clusters on the subcontinent, but we will be tested first in our batting tomorrow [Friday], but we are up for the challenge,” Rabada said.

“Personally, it’s a massive feat to be included in a list of such names as Waqar and Dale, when you start playing you never think of such stats, you just try to be the best you can. There’s no magic answer as to why I’ve been so consistent, it’s just hard work and spending a lot of time on my craft. It’s not easy, you’re trying for perfection and it takes constant repetition and hours of work, just trying to be relentless in seeing how much better you can get.”

While Rabada’s wicket-taking graph has just climbed steadily upwards, Markram’s career has been interspersed with troughs. His 74 on Thursday was his eighth half-century in 23 Tests, while he has also scored four centuries, for a tidy average of 39.51. But in Asia he had scored just 97 runs in nine innings before Thursday’s defiant effort.

“Aiden played an extremely important innings and his partnership with Rassie got us back in the game. He’s a magnificent player and he really applied himself well. He’s been working hard on his game and he really wants to be here. We have been through some of the same challenges and I’m glad he got runs today, he gave us a real chance,” Rabada said of his former U19 captain.

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