South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has heaped expectations on Kagiso Rabada to take over the mantle as the side’s prominent fast bowler.
Dale Steyn turned 35 years old last month and has been plagued by injury issues often consistent with the wear and tear of fast bowling, and the lead of the Proteas bowling attack as since been exchanged between Rabada and Vernon Philander.
Heading to the sub-continent, du Plessis said he would be leaning heavily on 23-year-old Rabada among his bowling weaponry in the two-Test series against Sri Lanka and beyond that.
“Dale has been the spearhead, but I think KG (Rabada) will take over that mantle. He’s got the skill, he’s got the pace and he’s got the control to do well in all conditions around the world.
“I have seen growth in him since the India tour. I think that’s what’s remarkable about KG, is how quickly he learns. That was his first subcontinent tour and I believe he’ll learn from that – the way he’s improved his control.
“With his skills, he’s got the ability now to swing the ball both ways with a reverse-swinging ball, which is a skill that not a lot of bowlers have. And once again, pace against any subcontinent team is something you want try and expose. We’ll have to see to what extent the wicket allows for that.
“It’s good to see him bowling quick again after his recent injury. He looks hungry to perform in the series.”
With reverse swing bowling the Holy Grail for any Test side, du Plessis maintained that Steyn’s future in international cricket wasn’t over in his view.
“Dale’s X-factor is how he picks up wickets with a reverse-swinging ball. His way of getting wickets with the new ball is getting it to move around a little bit with swing, and a little bit of seam, really consistently,” du Plessis said of Steyn.
“But there’s a period of the game when Dale gets his tail up. He gets one wicket, and is up there with the most dangerous bowlers in the world.”
Steyn claimed match figures of 9-99 the last time out in Galle with a devastating display of in-out swing and is just three Test wickets away from usurping Shaun Pollock as the nation’s top wicket-taker with 421.
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