- Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada is fit and raring to go as the Proteas take on Pakistan in a two-match Test series.
- Rabada says it would mean the world to him if the Proteas bring home the series trophy.
- The Proteas are expecting reverse swing to play a role as they tour Pakistan for the first time in 14 years.
South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada is eager to get back in whites as the Proteas take on Pakistan in a two-match Test series this month.
It will be Rabada's first Test match since mid-January 2020 when the Proteas lost to England at St. George's Park in Port Elizabeth.
Rabada missed out on the recent two-match home Test series against Sri Lanka as he recovered from a groin strain.
But the Proteas paceman is in Pakistan and has declared himself ready to play in his first red-ball game in over a year.
"My body is feeling good, it's something I have to manage it over time and not let the same things happen over and over. I feel good at the moment, taking it one step at a time," said Rabada in a CSA video press release.
Rabada has predominantly been playing T20 cricket since the game's resumption from the coronavirus-enforced break.
The 25-year-old admits Test cricket will always be his preferred format.
"It's my favourite format, it challenges you in every way and it challenges you in very different conditions as well," said Rabada.
"These days in one-day cricket, pitches are kind of the same and you have high scoring games quite often. Not to say I don't love one-day cricket and T20 cricket, I think they're great for the game but Test cricket is my favourite.
"It challenges you especially when you're playing in different countries with the weather, the conditions. It's interesting to see how it all unfolds. Sometimes you are chasing the game, sometimes you are on top and sometimes it's even and you have to work out ways to get on top and the other team is doing the same thing, and it builds up to such a climax.
"At the end, after all the hard work you put in, especially when you've won, it's extremely rewarding - more rewarding than any other format."
International cricket in Pakistan was put on hold in 2009 after gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus during the second Test in Lahore.
Pakistan has gradually hosted teams again in the last five years before Test cricket was revived there in late 2019.
Rabada, who is playing in Pakistan for the first time, expressed his excitement and stated that it would mean the world for him to win a series over there.
"I'm glad I get to say that I toured Pakistan because they hold such a prestige in international cricket. The guys are really excited to be here. I've been to every country and this is the only country I've never been to. They have some greats of the game who come from these parts and it's nice to be here and play this team in their home conditions," he said.
"It would mean the world. We've just won against Sri Lanka and guys have taken a lot of confidence from that. It's our first time touring Pakistan and it would be nice to get a win and climb up the ladder in the Test championship and to restore even more confidence because we know the capabilities we have as a team. We need to start showing that again and building on that."
This is Proteas' first visit to Pakistan since 2007 when they defeated the hosts by 160 runs in Karachi to clinch the series 1-0. The subsequent series in 2010 and 2013 were played in the United Arab Emirates.
Rabada is expecting nothing but fight from the Babar Azam-led Pakistan side and is eager to bring the series trophy back home.
"I'm expecting Pakistan to come out fighting. They've got some good players. It's not going to be easy," said Rabada.
"It's going to be a Test series we are going to have to earn the right to win. I'd love to go back home with a series trophy in the bag.
"The fact that a South African team has toured here and won before... it'll give us a mental belief that we can replicate the performances from the past. But at the same time, it's a totally new challenge," he continued.
"We know we can beat any team in the world. We are in a rebuilding phase, I think our future looks extremely bright. It's a totally new team with young energy, it's really exciting. We definitely have the belief we can do it."
Rabada believes that reverse swing will play a role as the Proteas brace for a challenge in Karachi and Rawalpindi.
"We're suspecting that reverse swing is going to play a role. The batters will have to adjust to the ball not bouncing as much as it does in South Africa. There's always a challenge," he said.
"We are probably going to have bowl straighter lines - it's cricket 101 - there's not much lateral movement. We're not sure about how the venue is going to play but we have an idea."
The first Test between Pakistan and the Proteas begins in Karachi on 26 January (07:00 SA time).
Proteas 21-man squad:
Quinton de Kock (captain), Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Kagiso Rabada, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Rassie van der Dussen, Anrich Nortje, Wiaan Mulder, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks, Kyle Verreynne, Sarel Erwee, Keegan Petersen, Tabraiz Shamsi, George Linde, Daryn Dupavillon, Marco Jansen
Proteas tour to Pakistan:
26-30 January - 1st Test at the National Stadium, Karachi (07:00 SA time)
4-8 February - 2nd Test at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium (07:00 SA time)
11 February - 1st T20 at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (12:30 SA time)
13 February - 2nd T20 at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (12:30 SA time)
14 February - 3rd T20 at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore (12:30 SA time)