Port Elizabeth: In what might well be his last act of the series, Kagiso Rabada set up South Africa’s series-levelling six-wicket win over Australia in the second Test with another spell of furious fast bowling on Monday.
Rabada took the first three wickets of the fourth day — and started by ripping out Mitchell Marsh’s off stump in the first over — to improve his match-haul to 11 and hurry the Australians out for 239 and another batting failure in their second innings.
South Africa clinched their win in Port Elizabeth by chasing down the meagre target of 101 before tea on the fourth day. It wasn’t straightforward, with Australia removing Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers in quick succession to have the South Africans 81-4.
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis took control to see his team home with Theunis de Bruyn.
The South African victory stops Australia’s momentum and gives the home team a chance of a first home series win over the Aussies since 1970. Australia has been dominant in South Africa since the end of apartheid.
A major problem for South Africa is that Rabada, the team’s No. 1 strike bowler, may be banned for those decisive last two Tests after he was charged with misconduct for bumping into Australia captain Steve Smith after getting him out in the first innings in Port Elizabeth.
Rabada attended a disciplinary hearing at St. George’s Park on Sunday and now will wait for the match officials and the International Cricket Council to decide his fate. The two-Test ban is on the table because of the 22-year-old quick bowler’s previous disciplinary record. He has been sanctioned three times previously for over-the-top celebrations when taking a wicket.
Rabada also exacerbated his problems with a second charge in Port Elizabeth for screaming in the face of David Warner when he got the Aussie opener out in the second innings on Sunday. He was charged for that incident on Monday morning.
Rabada’s early blitz ensured Australia, 180-5 overnight, didn’t get too much more in its second innings at St. George’s.
Marsh was out from the sixth ball of the day, with the Australian seeming to swear at Rabada as he walked off in another unsavory incident in one of the most ill-tempered cricket series in recent memory.
Rabada, who kept his aggression under control on Monday — although it’s likely too late for that — also dismissed Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc as the Australians folded in less than 10 overs of the fourth day.
Rabada’s 6-54 followed his 5-96 in the first innings and it was his fourth 10-wicket haul in tests. It’s taken Rabada 28 Tests to get those four 10-wicket hauls, an astonishingly impressive record which underlines the talent of the young quick. In comparison, Dale Steyn has five 10-wicket hauls but in 86 Test matches. South Africa great Allan Donald only had three 10-wicket hauls in his 72-test career.
But Rabada’s disciplinary record is a problem which South Africa needs to deal with if it’s not going to lose him regularly to bans. He served a one-test ban in England last year after swearing at Ben Stokes when he got him out.
“He’s got to be smarter and he knows that,” South Africa’s de Villiers said of Rabada.