Fit Rabada ready for different role in Sri Lanka

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Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada says he is fit and raring to go ahead of the first Test against Sri Lanka starting in Galle on Thursday.

The No.1 ranked ICC Test bowler has fully recovered from the lower back injury he sustained in April, and is hungry to return to action after the layoff.

The paceman got through 11 overs in warm-up match against a Sri Lanka Board XI over the weekend as he eased himself back into action.

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Rabada said after the squad’s practice in Galle on Tuesday: “I am feeling quite good, so far so good.

“We played a warm up game and all of the seamers bowled 12 overs. I have also been bowling some long spells in the nets, I bowled again today, so all is well. I am happy with where I am at the moment.

“I think so,” he said of making a successful comeback. “A stress reaction is very common in bowlers, it shouldn’t hold me back.”

This is Rabada’s first trip to Sri Lanka and his second on the subcontinent after his debut tour to India in 2015.

He played three matches on the disappointing tour, and although he had a slow start to his Test career – bar Virat Kohli as his first Test wicket – the experience in India has given him an idea of how to cope with the challenges of bowling on the subcontinent.

“We are playing on the sub-continent so it is generally harder for seamers,” he explained. “I have to play a role wherever I am playing in the world. The role we have to play here will be different to playing back home, I will try and fulfil the role.

“There isn’t much movement or bounce,” he said of the challenges. “You have to get your wickets differently, and because there isn’t much pace, most of the wickets will be in front of the batter, not behind the batter.”

The right-arm quick is the leading wicket-taker in 2018, taking 38 scalps at an average of 19.65.

He capped off a memorable home summer with a player of the series performance against Australia (23 wickets at an average of 19) and was announced as the SA Cricketer of the Year for the second time.

Although he continues to make a meteoric rise up the world cricketing ranks, the 23-year-old remains calm and humble ahead of each mounting challenge.

“Past experiences can boost you and give you the extra belief,” he said of last season’s achievements. “Coming here, the time is now, we are not in the past. I am focusing on what I can do now in this series.”

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