South Africa pacer Kagiso Rabada believes the Proteas have what it takes to shed the chokers tag and win their maiden world title in the upcoming ICC ODI World Cup in India.
Despite having some star players, South Africa has never progressed behind the semifinal stage of any of the World Cups till date but Rabada said this time it has the arsenal at its disposal to create history.
The Proteas will begin their World Cup preparations against Afghanistan in a warm-up match in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday.
“One thing we have never lacked as South Africans is belief, so going into the tournament we do believe we can win it,” Rabada was he was quoted as saying by ICC.
“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 Proteas failed to advance beyond the group stage four years ago but are yet to taste a series defeat in ODIs this year.
The four-time semifinalist struggled in 2019 but has since risen to fourth in the men’s ODI team rankings, and is 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. The lesson I took from that is that team cohesion is the most important factor, because individuals don’t win World Cups, teams do,” Rabada said.
“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 has a strong knowledge of subcontinent conditions, having excelled across several seasons in the Indian Premier League.
South Africa has also played 11 white-ball matches in India since the beginning of last year and he feels its collective experience could set it 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 said.
“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.” Rabada said it’s an honour for a cricketer to play in front of packed stadiums in India but it is also important to stay focussed to excel in such noisy environment.
“Managing the noise and distractions is really important and I think it’s just about focus and not letting the crowd get to you,” the pacer said.
“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.”
South Africa will also play its second warm-up match against New Zealand on Monday before its World Cup opener against Sri Lanka in New Delhi on October 7.
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