While it was Dale Steyn who ripped apart the Australian batting line-up in a fiery spell on the fourth day at Port Elizabeth, it was the turn of Kagiso Rabada, playing for the South Africa under-19s to serve up a similar kind of treatment to the Australian colts on Wednesday. It almost seemed as if it was Rabada against the Australians, as the 18-year-old from Johannesburg troubled them with his pace and bounce, ending with 6/25. South Africa made the final with an 80-run win.
The pacer idolises South Africa’s bowling spearhead for his aggression and the ability to move the ball at high speed. If Steyn had watched Rabada on Wednesday evening, he would have been proud. The strapping Rabada pummeled the Australian batsmen with accurate bouncers and when he pitched it full, he got it to come in sharply, often surprising batsmen with late movement.
Rabada cut the Australian batting to ribbons, claiming six wickets in just 8.2 overs. South Africa will now face Pakistan for the title on Saturday at the Dubai International Stadium.
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Rabada’s fifth over, with Australia at nine for no loss chasing 231 to win, was a fearsome display of the 18-year-old’s strength and control. He began with a vicious bouncer, angled into the body of Mathew Short. The ball, bowled at over 135 kmph, something that Rabada does without too much fuss, climbed swiftly on to the batsman. Short’s weak attempt at a pull only resulted in an edge which Clyde Fortuin gobbled up. Last ball of the over, Rabada showed that he wasn’t all about pace. He pitched one on good length, got it to shape in just a touch. The movement coupled with Rabada’s customary pace seemed to catch Damien Mortimer completely by surprise, as the ball rattled the stumps. At the end of the over, Australia were 18 for 2. A couple of overs later, Rabada made a mess of Jaron Morgan’s stumps with the score at 33.
Alex Gregory, the Australian skipper, had picked this moment to shepherd his side home. Gregory and Jake Doran, Australia’s highest run-scorer over the tournament, stitched a watchful 63 run partnership. However, just as it looked like Australia had finally found some sort of stability, Rabada was back, albeit in a different capacity. Corbin Bosch’s full ball was hammered to mid-off by the Aussie skipper. The ball hit ferociously, seemed headed for the fence, only for Rabada to magically get his hands on the ball. With Gregory gone, Australia looked to have thrown in the towel. Doran, their biggest hope, was dismissed lazily wafting at a ball that seamed away. A run-out opened up the tail and Rabada ran through them.
Earlier, South Africa who are unbeaten in the tournament, won the toss electing to bat. They were given a great start by their opening pair who put on 105 runs in just 20 overs. Skipper Aiden Markram scored a studious 45 but it was the wicket-keeper, Fortuin, who really took the attack to the Australians. The right-hander slammed 74 off 92, slashing and pulling his way to eight boundaries, providing a strong foundation for the rest of the Protea batters. However, with the departure of Markram and Fortuin, the rest of the batters found the going tough.
The Australian bowlers did a sterling job of bowling tight and exactly to the field that was set for them. Mathew Short was the pick of the lot being miserly with his off-breaks. The 18-year-old gave away just 14 runs in the seven overs that he bowled and most importantly sent back the dangerous Fortuin and Kirwin Christoffels. Short was well supported by Tom Andrews, the leg-spinner. Valli was responsible for taking South Africa past the 200-run mark after the innings seemed to have stagnated dangerously.
Brief scores: South Africa 230 for 9 in 50 overs (C Fortuin 74, A Markram 45; M Short 2/14, B Stanlake 2/36) beat Australia 150 all out in 42.2 overs (J Doran 36, A Gregory 31; K Rabada 6/25, C Bosch 2/25)