Kagiso Rabada celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's Usman Khawaja during the second Test, at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth, March 11 2018. Picture: REUTERS
Kagiso Rabada celebrates after taking the wicket of Australia's Usman Khawaja during the second Test, at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth, March 11 2018. Picture: REUTERS

It takes a special performance from a special player to shift the focus from the extra special AB de Villiers when he is in full cry.

But somebody did manage to steal De Villiers’s thunder. His name is Kagiso Rabada.

Rabada has bowled better and taken more wickets than the 3/38 he claimed in Australia’s second innings on Sunday; case in point is the 5/96 he took in the first innings on Friday.

But he has never shown more mongrel, more grunt, more edge and more nastiness than on Sunday.

Even the rare delivery that might not have threatened became a grenade once it left his hand.

Like the one David Warner defended, perfectly sensibly, towards midwicket.

The ball was timed at 151km/h and so it cracked off the bat with zeal.

Rabada exploded after it, dived full length, spinning like a low-flying, horizontal figure skater as he did so, and came up with the goods in a menacingly cocked throwing arm.

Four overs later Rabada removed Warner with a rattlesnake of a delivery that straightened after pitching to snipe through the gate and nail his off stump.

As Warner walked past, Rabada roared a one-word farewell. What he said was difficult to know but it wasn’t a dinner invitation.

With that we were reminded of the real world, that place Rabada seems to be struggling to come to terms with.

That he will probably be ripped from the script of this series’ compelling drama on Monday is a shocking thought.

If SA go on to win this match, and they should, it will be in no small way Rabada’s doing.

But he was set to attend a hearing with match referee Jeff Crowe after stumps on Sunday at which his fate for bumping shoulders with Steve Smith after he dismissed the Australian captain on Friday will be decided.

What matters is whether the contact between the players was avoidable. It was.

Rabada has five demerit points hanging over him. Sunday’s hearing could add three or four more.

Eight points would get him banned for the last two Tests.

A decision is expected on what looms, for SA, as an irredeemably blue Monday morning.

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