Kagiso Rabada, playing on the subcontinent for the first time since his debut tour of India in 2015, is fit and ready to test himself and his experience.
He is expected to be named in the team for the first Test against Sri Lanka, starting in Galle on Thursday, and to erase the disappointment of that first series, in which he took just two wickets in three matches. Since then, however, he has taken 141 in 27 matches and risen to No 1 in the world.
He has also fully recovered from the lower back injury he sustained in the Australia series in April, which kept him out of the IPL and which, said many observers, was a blessing in disguise, giving him plenty of rest. He bowled 11 overs, conceding just 17 runs in the warm-up match last week.
‘I am feeling quite good, so far so good,’ he said after the squad’s practice in Galle on Tuesday. ‘I have been bowling some long spells in the nets, and all is well. I am happy with where I am at the moment.’
He acknowledges that he will have to use all his experience to get a result from the flat wickets.
‘It is generally harder for seamers on the subcontinent,’ he said. ‘There isn’t much movement or bounce. You have to get your wickets differently, and because there isn’t much pace, most of the wickets will be in front of the batter, not behind the batter.
‘I have to play a role wherever I am playing in the world. The role we have to play here will be different to playing back home, I will try and fulfil the role.’
Rabada is the leading wicket-taker in 2018, taking 38 at an average of 19.65. He capped off a memorable home summer with a Player of the Series performance against Australia (23 wickets at an average of 19) and was named the SA Cricketer of the Year for the second time.
Although he continues to make a meteoric rise up the world cricketing ranks, the 23-year-old remains calm and humble ahead of each mounting challenge.
‘Past experiences can boost you and give you the extra belief,’ he said. ‘Coming here, the time is now, we are not in the past. I am focusing on what I can do now in this series.’