Kagiso Rabada: I’m used to Indian conditions and that should help me

“It’s India versus South Africa, so I have got a responsibility and so do others in our team. We are looking to play as a unit,” says the speedster.

“My main target is to take it game by game and focus on the small details,” says Kagiso Rabada.   -  PTI

Kagiso Rabada has picked up 19 wickets in four Tests this year. But even then, he hasn’t been the talking point, really. The South Africa pace ace, regarded as one of the finest fast bowlers of the world, however, doesn’t want to think too much about statistics. For him, the target is simple: “Take it game by game and aim for win.”

In India for a long tour, the 24-year-old feels it’s important to stick to the basics and set the strategies well for a strong opponent.

“It’s India versus South Africa, so I have got a responsibility and so do others in our team. We are looking to play as a unit to beat India as a team,” he tells Sportstar during an interaction.

Putting aside the disappointments of the World Cup — where he claimed just 11 wickets in nine matches, averaging 36.09 — Rabada is ready to start afresh.

You are back in business after a rather disappointing World Cup campaign. What do you think went wrong?

We just did not rock and we were a little bit disjointed on the field. We did not play as a team. We weren’t strong enough mentally. There are no excuses.

This is a long tour for South Africa. What are your personal targets?

Just to take it step by step and to win 80 percent ratio and higher. Main target is to take it game by game and focus on the small details.

What are the areas that you have worked on in the last couple of months after the World Cup?

I have done nothing in the last couple of months (laughs). It’s a work in progress now and the target is to get back to the basics really and improve the mental strength in certain areas.

What have you been doing in your time off?

Just catching up with some of my endorsement activities and relaxing with family and friends. Also travelling in South Africa, seeing old friends, meeting new friends.

Just sorting out a few administrative things — the other side of my life. Just being normal.

“I think the responsibility shifts on to myself and the other players who have established themselves in the team,” says Rabada, who feels it is all about realising the importance of leading the team in key situations.   -  PTI

 

For a bowler, fitness remains an important aspect. It is a packed international calendar, what steps are you taking to be injury-free?

You don’t really want to think about it much, but you just want to make sure that you keep yourself in good condition — stretching, keeping strong in the gym. Yeah, just not trying to reinvent the will but just keep that ticking over. Basically that’s it — watching your loads, really!

You have a fair idea about the wickets in India, thanks to the Indian Premier League. Will that experience help?

I think that definitely should. I have played here a handful of times, so definitely I am used to the conditions. So, that insight should help me, moving forward.

Now that South Africa is going through a transition phase, how much responsibility comes to someone like you who has played a fair amount of international cricket?

I think yes, the responsibility does shift on to myself and the other players who have established themselves in the team. I have been in the team for five years now and next year, I will be stepping into the sixth — so that’s a long time. The baton needs to be handed over and at the same time, I think nothing needs to change much. It’s about realising that you are leading the team in key situations.

What are the areas that the South African bowlers should work on for the Test series?

The spinners need to bowl well and we have got some good spinners. For the seamers, it’s about straight line and the big tactics will be the reverse swing. We will see what type of wickets we get. Most likely it should be dry, so really try and attack the stumps and get some reverse swing.

This series is being touted as ‘Virat Kohli vs Kagiso Rabada’. Does it add any pressure?

No, I don’t see it that way. It’s India versus South Africa, so I have got a responsibility and so do others in our team. We are looking to play as an unit to beat India as a team.

Burnout has been a factor for fast bowlers. How do you plan to manage such situations, this season?

Just watching how much you bowl and making sure you are fresh for whatever games are coming up.

That’s it — managing yourself off the field in terms of loads and in terms of recovery.