Records fall as Rabada terrifies Bangladeshi tail
All things being equal‚ SA and Bangladesh would have been busy with the second Test until about 5pm on Tuesday.
But nothing about the match was equal‚ and instead hostilities ended nearly an hour before the players were to have taken tea on Sunday.
With Kagiso Rabada ablaze for his match haul of 10/63‚ SA won by an innings and 254 runs to wrap up a 2-0 series win inside three days.
Following on 426 runs behind after replying to SA’s 573/4 declared with 147‚ Bangladesh were dismissed for 172. It was SA’s biggest Test win.
That marked the third time Rabada has taken 10 wickets — and that in only 22 Tests — and made him the leading Test wicket-taker in the world in 2017‚ and the 16th bowler to claim 100 wickets for SA. At 22‚ he is also the youngest.
Were SA that good? Were Bangladesh that poor? Both.
Less equivocal is that Rabada has resolved whatever has bothered him since January 4 — the day he took 6/55 against Sri Lanka at Newlands‚ his previous five-wicket haul in the 14 innings in which he had bowled beforethe Bloemfontein Test.
To see Bangladesh’s tailenders retreat gracelessly towards short leg even as Rabada advanced gracefully towards the bowling crease was to see a predator terrify prey.
But we know he can bowl.
What of the rest of a pace attack that was missing the injured Dale Steyn‚ Vernon Philander and Morné Morkel?
"It is important to see how we can make those guys get better for the time when they need to step up into the team‚" captain Faf du Plessis said.
"Hopefully [Steyn‚ Philander‚ Rabada and Morkel] will be fit to play most of the games‚ but these guys… will be looked at for the future so it’s important for them to see there is some work to do‚ but they have the quality."
These guys are Duanne Olivier‚ Wayne Parnell and Andile Phehlukwayo.
The best of them was Olivier‚ who after not using his opportunities well enough in most of his other four Tests took four wickets in the match and bowled with the kind of aggression that put Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim in hospital.
"That’s what you want to see from young bowlers‚" Du Plessis said. "You want to see improvement‚ that they can learn quickly at the highest level.
"Because the guys that can learn‚ you can stick with them. The way [Olivier] bowled was a fantastic effort. To bowl 10 overs on the trot of short-ball work takes incredible effort.
"You can’t compare any of our bowlers to KG [Rabada]‚ but what we needed from the attack today was to be ruthless and aggressive and try and make it uncomfortable for Bangladesh‚ and he led from that aspect."
Olivier impressed most not by clanging Mushfiqur on the side of the helmet‚ which halted the game for several minutes while medics — including Mohammed Moosajee‚ SA’s team doctor and manager — fussed over the clearly groggy Bangladeshi‚ but by trying to hit him again with his very next delivery.
Mushfiqur ducked safely under that bouncer but Olivier then smacked Mahmudullah on the helmet‚ albeit with fewer adverse consequences.
Having ignored Moosajee’s advice to seek further medical attention‚ Mushfiqur bravely faced another 32 deliveries before he was dismissed and taken to hospital.
He returned in time to take issue with suggestions that he should resign the captaincy.
"Why should I? It’s not only because of me. It’s not an individual game. It’s a team game."
Never has a man seemed more lonely.