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South Africa's Kagiso Rabada dominant force across all formats of cricket as England prepare to face him again

Kagiso Rabada's stats stand up across all formats of the game as England prepare to face him in the white-ball arena; paceman could become first bowler to top bowling rankings in every format; watch South Africa vs England on Sky Sports from 3.30pm on Friday

Kagiso Rabada
Image: South Africa's Kagiso Rabada recorded the best bowling figures of anyone on ODI debut when he bagged 6-16 against Bangladesh in 2015

The recent history of cricket is littered with players who have performed great things in one form of the game but have struggled to reach the top in other formats.

However, in Kagiso Rabada, South Africa have a player who is not just a 'jack of all trades' but a 'master of all trades'.

Not always an automatic selection for South Africa's Twenty20 team, the fast bowler put any notion of him being left out of the forthcoming matches with England firmly in the shade with a superlative IPL in which he took the second-most wickets by anyone in one edition of the tournament:

Most IPL wickets in a season

Name IPL season Matches Wickets Average
Dwayne Bravio 2013 18 32 15.53
Kagiso Rabada 2020 17 30 18.26
Lasith Malinga 2011 16 28 13.39
James Faulkner 2013 16 28 15.25
Jasprit Bumrah 2020 15 27 14.92

It wasn't just the wickets he took, but the way he took them, as he propelled the Delhi Capitals into the IPL final for the first time in their history. Having finished third in 2019 and second this year, they will be hoping to go one better next spring when the competition will hopefully return to its normal position in the year.

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Rabada first came to attention in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in the UAE in early 2014, taking 6-25 in South Africa's semi-final victory against Australia - he ended up as his country's leading wicket-taker as they took the title with a win over Pakistan in the final.

Under the captaincy of his future Protea team-mate Aiden Markram, South Africa won their first world Under-19 crown with a convincing six-wicket victory and their spearhead started on his way to stardom.

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Rabada's performances led to promotion to the Lions Franchise in South African domestic cricket, and he rewarded them instantly with what were at the time the best match figures in the franchise-era, when he claimed 14-105 against Dolphins in Johannesburg in 2015. Those figures have only been bettered once, by Robbie Frylinck, who bagged 14-62 for Dolphins against Lions in Potchefstroom in 2016.

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Rabada's assault on the game's statistics continued in his first-ever one-day international back in July 2015, at the tender age of just 20. Playing against Bangladesh at Mirpur, he took a hat-trick on the way to 6-16 in eight overs to set a record for the best-ever bowling figures by anyone on their ODI debut, a record which still stands to this day:

Best bowling figures on ODI debut

Name Bowling figures For Against Venue and year
Kagiso Rabada 6-16 South Africa Bangladesh Mirpur, 2015
Fidel Edwards 6-22 West Indies Zimbabwe Harare, 2003
Jan Frylinck 5-13 Namibia Oman Windhoek, 2019
Tony Dodemaide 5-21 Australia Sri Lanka Perth, 1988
Uvais Karnain 5-26 Sri Lanka New Zealand Moratuwa, 1984

With a start like that, it was little surprise when he was promoted to the Test side for a debut against India at Mohali that November. In a low-scoring match he took only one wicket as it was the spinners who did most of the work and reaped the greatest rewards.

However, it wasn't long until he was making his mark in the longest form of the game, too.

In just his sixth Test, he routed England with 13 wickets at Centurion in 2016 - the second-best bowling figures for South Africa in their Test history stretching all the way back to 1889. Rabada's 13-144 behind only Makhaya Ntini's 13-132 against West Indies at Port of Spain in 2005.

Kagiso Rabada
Image: Rabada is clapped by team-mates during his 13-wicket match haul against England in 2016

He continued to go from strength to strength and in May 2017 he reached top spot in the ICC ODI bowling bankings when he briefly dislodged team-mate Imran Tahir for a brief five-day stay.

Better was to come in the Test arena, when in January 2018 he became the youngest bowler in history to reach the No 1 spot in the ICC Test bowling rankings, cementing the position with 11 wickets in the Port Elizabeth Test against Australia two months later.

Youngest bowlers to top Test rankings

Name Age Team Date
Kagiso Rabada 22y 7m South Africa January 2018
George Lohmann 22y 8m England February 1888
Sir Ian Botham 22y 9m England August 1978
Joey Palmer 23y 0m Australia March 1882
Waqar Younis 23y 1m Pakistan January 1993

Perhaps the only thing missing from his resumé is an impressive peak in the ICC Twenty20 international rankings, with his best highest position of 19th coming way back in March 2016.

However, with time very much on his side, if he maintains the form he showed in the IPL, who would bet against him becoming the first bowler to reach top spot in all three forms of the international game?

Watch Rabada in action against England, starting with the first T20 international on Friday. Coverage on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event begins at 3.30pm.

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