Forget Dale Steyn, watch out for pacy Kagiso Rabada, says Lalchand Rajput
Former India coach Lalchand Rajput reckons South Africa's young pace sensation Kagiso Rabada will test Indian batsmen the most; advocates a 5-bowler strategy for visitors
South Africa's Kagiso Rabada bowls during the opening Test against Australia at the WACA in Perth last year. PIC/Getty Images
Two Indian batsmen - Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli - feature among the six cricketers who scored 1000-plus Test runs this year. In the 50-over format, only three have scored more than 1000 runs in 2017 and again, two Indians are part of the list - Kohli and Rohit Sharma. For the first time, Team India is seen on an equal footing with South Africa as they get into the groove for three Tests, six ODIs and three T20Is from January 5.
The expectations are high from Kohli's team to register India's maiden Test or ODI bilateral series victory in South Africa, especially since the batting order is in rich form and they also have the firepower in the pace department to dismantle the Proteas. While all eyes will be on comeback man Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander as they claimed 10 wickets each during India's last tour to SA in 2013-14, former India coach Lalchand Rajput reckons Kagiso Rabada will trouble the Indian batsmen more than any other South African pacer.
"Rabada is a very matured bowler now. Even in India (during the 2015-16 series), he bowled really well on flat wickets. On helpful pitches, he will be dangerous. A lot of people are saying that Steyn will be dangerous, but he is making a comeback after a long injury lay off. He has to get his rhythm right. I feel Rabada (aged 22) will test the Indian batsmen along with Philander and (Morne) Morkel," Rajput told mid-day.
Rajput was the coach when a raw Indian team, led by MS Dhoni, did the unthinkable by clinching the inaugural World T20 trophy in Johannesburg one decade ago. According to Rajput, shot selection will be important for the Indian batsmen to succeed on bouncy South African pitches. "There has to be a little bit of adjustment. On a bouncy wicket, you have got to play your shots and not get bogged down by just blocking. Back foot shots will be important. If we can get runs off the back foot, then the South African bowling will be really tested. I don't think they will bowl too full, so, the cut and pull shot will be crucial," he said.
As a coach, Rajput would prefer a five-bowler strategy to counter the South Africans. "I would go with four bowlers and a bowling all-rounder in Hardik Pandya. I would have three medium pacers, a spinner and Pandya. So, five bowlers, five batsmen and a wicketkeeper this would be my strategy," Rajput said.
73 No. of wickets Kagiso Rabada has claimed in the last five completed Test series which included 14 Tests
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