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Proteas pass the baton to new pace star

AAP logoAAP 7/11/2016 By Justin Chadwick

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has praised the heroics of Kagiso Rabada, describing the emerging pace star as a champion bowler following his match-winning haul against Australia.

Rabada snared 2-78 and 5-92 to lead South Africa to a 177-run win over Australia in the first Test at the WACA Ground.

What made his efforts even more meritorious was the expanded work load he was forced to carry following Dale Steyn's match-ending shoulder injury.

Rabada sent down 51 overs for the match - the most of his nine-Test career.

"I'm incredibly proud of him. I've got a lot of respect for anyone who puts their hand up and does the hard yards," du Plessis said.

"Kagi just wanted the ball. Every time I said to him, 'Kagi, are you tired, are you done?' He said, 'No, you're not taking the ball out of my hands'.

"So that's a sign of a champion bowler - someone who wants to be in the fight for the whole time."

Du Plessis even gave Rabada a kiss when the paceman snared the wicket of Mitchell Starc.

"I'm sleeping with him tonight," Du Plessis joked after the match.

Rabada can lay claim to being better than a swag of the game's greats - in comparative terms anyway.

In nine Tests, he's snared 36 wickets at 24.41, a return better than that achieved by Curtley Ambrose (35), Richard Hadlee (32), Dale Steyn (32) and Courtney Walsh (31) at the same point of their careers.

Australian great Glenn McGrath was even further afield with 25 scalps in his opening nine Tests.

South Africa's crushing win in Perth was symbolic for many reasons.

One was the passing of the pace baton from Steyn to Rabada.

Steyn is set to miss at least six months of cricket with a broken shoulder but South African fans can take comfort in the prospect of Rabada spearheading the pace attack for the next decade.

He kissed the WACA pitch upon taking his fifth wicket in Perth.

"I just did it spontaneously," he said with a smile.

His blistering over to Adam Voges on Sunday - in which he was able to get the ball to move through the air both ways - was breathtaking.

His bowling coach Charl Langeveldt said he got goosebumps just watching the spell.

"I enjoyed that over," Rabada said.

"It was a new batter coming in. The ball was reversing nicely. And I think I was feeling my best rhythm at that time.

"It was good to get his wicket. Sometimes you get a wicket exactly how you want to. That was one of the times."

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