Johannesburg: Five days before the final Test on a pitch that bore an excessively green tinge, pacer Kagiso Rabada said South Africa are gunning for a whitewash of India, having trampled the visitors in the first two matches.
The hosts have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead with convincing wins in the first two Tests, with Rabada producing a match-winning spell at the Newlands.
“Obviously we know how to play fast bowling and we’ve got respect for their attack. Every game you go into, you want to win. So obviously we want to get a whitewash against India.”
Rabada said that India are too reliant on skipper Virat Kohli, who scored his 21st Test hundred at Centurion.
“I think they do rely on him. But it is just like we rely on a couple of players too. I’m not saying India don’t have any quality players, they do. But it’s just a fact – Kohli scores most of their runs.
“It is really enjoyable bowling to the likes of him. He was named ICC Player of the Year (sic), so it’s quite cool to go up against the best.”
When asked about India’s lack of preparation going into the series, he said, “I don’t know what’s going on in their preparation. That’s not something we want to look at really.
“We’ve got no concern with their preparation. We’re concerned with how we want to get them out and how we want to win against them. I’m not going to diagnose their problems.”
The young pacer though feels that the Indian attack has given a good account in the two Tests.
“The fast bowlers are excited to bowl at the Wanderers. We always are as it has pace, bounce and swing. Bumrah is a very good bowler, he’s already opening the bowling now. He’s done very well with the one-day stuff and now he’s doing very well in the Test matches too.
“Mohammed Shami is very experienced and got some pace. Umesh Yadav, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar who caused a lot of trouble in Cape Town, they’ve got good fast bowlers.”
His team 2-0 up, he is not thinking about cricket now.
“I haven’t seen the pitch yet. Cricket is off my mind now and the hard work starts again on Monday. Then we’ll have a look at the pitch. We know how the conditions behave here.
“India played really well the last time they were here, Kohli got a hundred. Wanderers is a good wicket, it’s normally a moving wicket. It’s a pitch where if you bat well you can score some runs, and if you bowl well you’ll take wickets.”
Rabada said playing India is a challenge though there is a difference between their overseas record since 2011, and their record during their dream run in the 2015-17 period.
“Playing against the Indians is extremely challenging. They are known for their great batsmen and they’ve got really good bowlers as well. So they are very competitive, they’re throwing everything they have at us, and their batsmen want to make a statement.
“They’ve made a statement everywhere else in the world, and they wanted to come here and really beat us. So things are going to get a bit messy out there. But that’s just the nature of it, with two quality sides coming against each other. Off the field, we’re friends,” he added.
The Proteas won the second Test by 135 runs to clinch the the series and Rabada said that their team effort helped them to beat India.
“It’s nice to see youngsters step up – like Lungi Ngidi, he stepped up. Aiden Markram stepped up in the first innings. It was also nice to see Hashim Amla get some runs, AB de Villiers came in and played a very crucial knock in the second innings.
“He’s just got the ability to speed the game up and not get out at the same time. So he played very well, I thought that was a very key moment. And also the way Dean Elgar hung with him.”
He said South Africa wanted to bat as long as possible in the second innings at Centurion.
“In the second innings, we just wanted to bat time, see how long we could go because we knew the pitch was only getting harder to bat on. There was a bit of variable bounce. The wicket was squatting a bit and some balls were bouncing, a bit more misbehaving.
“We knew reverse swing was going to be a tactic, and the short ball as well, because of the nature of the wicket. All in all, I thought our bowlers did a great job in containing the runs and bowling wicket-taking deliveries,” he added.
Rabada highlighted that AB de Villiers’ free-scoring knocks in Cape Town and Centurion had set up the wins for South Africa.
“AB is a genius at his craft. It’s a fact. He stays in on difficult wickets, but he’s striking at 70 or 80 – he makes it look easy.
“He’s got a real understanding of the game, which a lot of people don’t get that easily. It looks very simple to him. He’s a very crucial player in our team,” said Rabada.
He also talked about Lungi Ngidi, someone who he has played with since the Under-19 days. The latter took 6-39 in India’s second innings collapse at Supersport Park.
“Lungi and I, we played together in the Under-19. We even toured India I remember, but he got injured unfortunately and his trip was cut short. But we played together at school and we have a history. So it’s just nice to play with your friend, from when you were a teenager.
“Hopefully long may it continue, and we can form a great partnership. I know he has enjoyed bowling with the likes of Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander as well.”