Cricket: South Africa vs. Australia
South Africa roared back into contention for series glory against Australia in the second Test. But the fire and fury that helped them to level the score came at a heavy price – Kagiso Rabada is expected to miss game three at Newlands, which starts Thursday.
It is a significant blow because Rabada was the architect of the six-wicket win in Port Elizabeth. His pace, swing and seam was too much for Australia to handle as he wrecked their batting, picking up 11 wickets.
Unfortunately, Rabada is a conundrum. Seam and swing are gentle, subtle arts. But Rabada is a loose cannon, prone to going off at any moment and losing his cool. And that’s exactly what happened at St George’s Park. He was so pumped up that he celebrated too aggressively and shoulder-barged the Australia captain, Steve Smith.
It was an error that looks like it will cost him his place in Cape Town. The ICC banned him for two Tests, tired of the pacer consistently breaking the rules with regard to on-field discipline. It is a terrible blow for South Africa for the third match and, indeed, the series.
There is a chance Rabada could win a reprieve. The South African board has appealed against the decision. But Rabada’s absence opens up betting opportunities. With the hosts shorn of their most penetrative bowler, Australia should feel confident of claiming a series win.
William Hill (green-listed bookmaker) goes +125 about the Aussies getting their noses in front and staying there with two matches left. If that sounds a little skinny, ask yourself where South Africa would have been without Rabada’s 11 wickets in Port Elizabeth?
South Africa is already light on pacers because of the persistent injuries to Dale Steyn, the figurehead. And it hasn’t helped that Morne Morkel appears to have lost some of his fire having announced his intention to retire at the end of the series. Morkel is pencilled in to replace Rabada.
With Rabada absent for Cape Town, we need to be aware of value on the top first-innings bowler market for the third Test.
If he was playing, Rabada would have been the favorite. Fair enough. However, even if he was in the lineup we would still probably take him on because it is actually Keshav Maharaj who cops most often on this market.
The spinner is so hot that he should be about a +230 shot. Instead, William Hill (green-listed bookmaker) offers +275. That’s a terrific edge in our favor, particularly because Maharaj has won 30 percent of the time in matches that have included Rabada.