Will the real Rabada please stand up?

Kagiso Rabada (Supplied)
Kagiso Rabada (Supplied)

London - As South Africa turn their focus to what has become a simply massive World Cup fixture against India in Southampton, they do so in the knowledge that they will once again be depleted in their fast bowling stocks. 

Dale Steyn, who was missing from the first two defeats to England and Bangladesh with a shoulder injury, could be back as he nears full fitness.

While that will obviously be a massive boost given that Steyn has always been a key part of South Africa's plans for the tournament, the killer blow is that Lungi Ngidi will definitely miss Wednesday's clash with the hamstring strain he picked up while bowling against Bangladesh on Sunday. 

It creates the very real possibility of South Africa going into the India match with Steyn and Ngidi both out, and that would leave the Proteas extremely thin in a department that was supposed to be their major strength heading into the competition. 

The one positive, in theory at least, is that they still have Kagiso Rabada

It was largely accepted in the build-up to the World Cup that if the Proteas were going to have any success in England, Rabada would feature prominently. 

So far, that hasn't happened. 

He returned figures of 2/66 in 10 overs in the tournament opener against England, and then on Sunday was far from his best with 0/57 from 10 against Bangladesh. 

Those are not the worst numbers, but the major concern over Rabada is that he has not done the damage up front. 

It is an area where the Proteas are desperate to be better given their desire to put batting line-ups on the back foot, and the hope is that Rabada finds something from somewhere, and soon.

He has always been a key component in the South African attack, but that truth has taken on even more significance now that Ngidi and Steyn are both injured. 

"There is a lot more weight on KG's shoulders to get wickets," Gibson acknowledged after Sunday's 21-run loss to Bangladesh.

"He bowled okay today, but he didn't strike, and we need our strike bowlers to strike like we need our best batters to make runs."

Gibson couldn't put his finger on exactly why Rabada had made such a difficult start to the World Cup, but he does not think there is anything physically holding him back.

"He came back from the IPL early and he's had a break, so I would think he is operating at 100%," the coach said.

"But he is not striking and he's not taking wickets like we know he can.

"That's something that I'm sure he is hurting from because when I speak to him, he doesn't want to be the best bowler in the country he wants to be the best bowler in the world.

"At the moment when you look around and see the impact (Jofra) Archer is having and players like that, I'm sure he will want to have his own impact and leave his mark on the World Cup."

An update on Steyn's fitness is expected on Tuesday.

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...

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