South Africa were out of running for the semi-finals at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 following a timid display against Pakistan. Chasing 309 to win in a do-or-die clash for both teams, Proteas could only muster 259/9 at the end of the 50 overs. In doing so South Africa suffered their fifth defeat of the tournament out of seven matches played - their only win coming against Afghanistan with their match against West Indies being washed out.
Of the six completed matches, South Africa's bowling unit could not bowl out any opposition bar Afghanistan. They conceded 311 against England, 330 against Bangladesh, 230 against India, 245 against New Zealand and 308 against Pakistan.
Of the top wicket-takers in this edition, seamers have stood out but a name which many expected to feature up was missing - Kagiso Rabada. In the end, of six innings and 58 overs bowled, he could only muster six wickets at an average of 50.83. After the defeat against Pakistan, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis revealed he and the team management had tried to get Rabada to skip the lucrative Indian Premier League to keep him fresh but it wasn't followed.
The disclosure was in response to a question if Rabada's lack of potency was down to fatigue. Du Plessis admitted that there were even considerations of getting Rabada back home midway through the season. However, the 24-year-old seamer remained in India till the end of April, taking 25 wickets at an average of 14.72 from 12 games for Delhi Capitals.
"I don't think we'll ever have a perfect answer for that because he's probably biting on too much," du Plessis said on Sunday when asked about the fast bowler's workload. "But we did try and get him not to go to the IPL; to try and stay and get fresh. That wasn't the case — and then when he went there, we were like, let's try and get him back halfway through the IPL because it's important, not just for him, but a few other players."
"I mean, I spoke about it before the IPL even started, that it's important that we try and find space to rest our three-format players, because they play all the formats all the time, and then IPL.
"So I don't think it's not necessarily just the IPL, but it was important for a few guys to rest; and the fact that they didn't, meant that they — you know, they came into the tournament not fresh. That's not an excuse; that's just a fact. And KG is — you can see that his pace is probably a little bit down from where he normally is."
Rabada's workload can be ascertained by the fact that he has bowled 303 overs in all competitions since the start of the year, 47 of which came at the IPL.
"But that challenge we are going to have as a team all the time. You can't, unfortunately, go back with the national side and say to KG: Listen, you're going to rest for the next two series'. He's such a big player for the team; it's a difficult thing to do. You know, you need guys that can...you need three or four or five bowlers in the wings waiting, so you can have a bit of a rotation system. I mean, that was the plan with Anrich [Nortje] in the back-up and pipeline, and he got injured, as well. So, therefore, all our pace is gone and there's so much responsibility on KG to carry that load of being the lone fast bowler," du Plessis went on to say.