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Proteas proud of their performance, says KG

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Proteas paceman Kagiso Rabada celebrates the dismissal of New Zealand’s Tom Latham with his teammates on day four of the second cricket Test match against New Zealand. Picture: Sanka Vidanagama, AFP

Kagiso Rabada delivered an all-round performance in the second Test against New Zealand that underscored his status as one of the best players in the world at the moment.

Johannesburg – Kagiso Rabada delivered an all-round performance in the second Test against New Zealand that underscored his status as one of the best players in the world at the moment.

Rabada quite rightly was named player of the match as South Africa stormed back to claim a 198-run victory and square the two match series against the World Test champions in Christchurch on Tuesday. Rabada finished with match figures of 8/106, that included a first innings ‘five-for’ and added a crucial swashbuckling 47 with the bat in South Africa’s second innings.

“We are obviously very proud of our performance,” said Rabada.

Now established as part of the leadership group within the squad, Rabada said one of his main roles after the first Test – besides ensuring his own performance improved – was to get the rest of the players to move on from what happened in that innings and 276-run defeat last week.

“There is no use harping on about how badly we’d played. As much as we do need to recognise all the faults we made, we still need to put plans together and adapt as quickly as possible for the second game. It was about understanding where we went wrong, and mentally … waking up, rocking up and executing game plans.”

Rabada has looked back to his awesome best in the last few months. The last time the 26 year old went wicketless in an innings was against Pakistan in Rawalpindi a year ago. Since then he has claimed 43 wickets at an average of 17.67.

“Every time you play you just want to implement the basics as well as possible and adapt to conditions. You’re always facing different conditions; it’s about adapting to that and trusting your strengths. You have to try and create your own luck through hard work and tactical planning, and getting yourself in a good mental space.”

The realisation, about his role as a leader in the squad, seems to have hit home after Proteas captain Dean Elgar had some stern words with him during the India series and Rabada is revelling in being a role-model in the dressing room.

“The team looks to him and he knows that, and sometimes it’s a big load for him to bear, but he accepts that responsibility and that’s what makes him good,” Rassie van der Dussen said earlier this week. “He knows if he bowls well, then we will do well and if he takes wickets, then we will win.”

Asked to explain how South Africa have bounced back twice against high class opponents in recent series’s, Rabada said: “If you look at previous South African teams, the word that fits us best was ‘resilience.’ It was never easy to beat us. We’ve proved it again here. It was extremely hard.”

He reserved praise for the rookies, who made crucial contributions in the second Test.

“We had young guys step up like Lutho (Sipamla), Kyle (Verreynne) and Sarel (Erwee) who all stood up. There are lots of good signs for the future, especially for the new guys coming in. Resilience has always been a character trait that we have shown best to the world.”

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