Immensely impressed by Mayank Yadav’s raw speed and accuracy, South Africa and Punjab Kings pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada sees the fast bowling sensation as a “potential pick” in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup. The 21-year-old from Delhi has been pushing the speed barrier with every game and on Tuesday night, bowled a 156.7 kmph thunderbolt against Royal Challengers Bengaluru. It was his second straight man of the match performance in his debut season, leading Lucknow Super Giants to a convincing win.

Rabada’s team Punjab Kings was at the receiving end of Mayank’s barrage of short-pitched deliveries last week when the debutant struck thrice with his rattling pace. One of the best pacers in the game, the South African also spoke about Mayank’s remarkable accuracy.

“He has got something that you cannot buy and that is raw pace. That is what exactly he is exploiting and exploiting it extremely well,” Rabada told PTI in an interview.

“The lengths that he hits, his plan is clear and now batters are going to be aware of what he can bring to the party but it is pretty obvious he has got immense pace and it seems he can control where he wants to bowl.

“When you have got pace and control as well, and he understands his role. So, when you have got clarity, it is no surprise that he is turning out performances like that,” said Rabada.

Mayank is only two games old in the IPL but his name is already being discussed widely as a potential selection in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup in the USA and Caribbean. Rabada too thinks he can’t be overlooked.

“At this stage, he is looking hot and I have no doubt selectors will be looking at him at as a potential guy in the team but that is none of my business. To my understanding, he will definitely be looked at as a potential pick.”

Available for each and every game this IPL

The IPL 2024 has assumed more significance as it precedes the T20 World Cup in June where Rabada will be trying to help South Africa win an elusive ICC title.

But before that, he remains fully committed to Punjab Kings’ campaign this season.

“My goal is to play each and every game and to make myself available for each and every game this IPL. The rest is up to the coach and management.

“Leading up to the World Cup, if picked, it is something that I would love to be involved in. The IPL would definitely be a test to see where you are at and and see where you can be a bit better and brush up. At the same time, it is about trying to win games for Punjab Kings.” Rabada got closest to winning the IPL when Delhi Capitals reached the final in 2020. Hungry for titles both for South Africa and in IPL, Rabada is hoping to land a trophy double over the next three months.

His illustrious South African teammate Quinton de Kock had divided opinions by saying that the IPL is the biggest thing he has won in his career after lifting the trophy with Mumbai Indians. Rabada would not go that far but to him, IPL is by far the biggest prize in the world of franchise cricket.

“The IPL is the biggest T20 league in the world barring the ICC events. It seems to be a league that is growing from strength to strength, attracting the world’s best players “He (de Kock) is right in saying it…IPL is definitely the best out there. I still think country takes precedence over any sort of league you play.

‘”However, winning the IPL would be monstrous and would be a huge achievement and a tick off the bucket list. We came so close with Delhi but now with Punjab, we are hoping this could be our year.” On the season so far, he added: “What is missing is a team performance, we got the team, we have got the players and each player has to take responsibility.”

Rabada wants two bouncer rule also in international cricket

The 28-year-old also feels the two bouncer per over rule that has been introduced in IPL this season should also make its way to the highest level.

“I don’t see why not, it balances the game more. As you have seen there have been whole lot of runs scored, wickets are better. It makes the game more interesting,” he opined.

“It makes both batters and bowlers think more about the game. It adds more to strategy. From the fans’ perspective, it adds another talking point. As a cricket player, it gives you a lot more to work with, it allows batters to find new ways to deal with short ball.

“If you use it to your advantage just the like Mayank has used (for LSG) that is playing into his hands extremely well. Each team can use it as a weapon in its arsenal,” reckoned Rabada.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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