‘Mayank Yadav was born to terrorise batters, pace can’t be bought in market’: Kagiso Rabada | Cricket

It took just three deliveries for Mayank Yadav in IPL 2024 to catch the world’s attention. And also Kagiso Rabada’s. The South Africa fast bowler, however, didn’t need the confirmation of the speed gun which read 150.1 kph. The way Jonny Bairstow was late trying to clip the back-of-a-length delivery was proof enough.

Kagiso Rabada was all praise for Mayank Yadav
Kagiso Rabada was all praise for Mayank Yadav

That’s one thing with fast bowlers. They smell the other’s presence from far away. And Rabada was sitting in the Punjab Kings (PBKS) dugout barely 40 metres from Mayank’s run-up marker.

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For the next 10 minutes, Mayank would beat Bairstow and Shikhar Dhawan – two batters with more than 22,000 international runs – with sheer pace and eventually dismiss the England white-ball opener with a 143 kph bouncer. The Lucknow Super Giants pacer would hurry two more PBKS batters – Prabhsimran Singh and Jitesh Sharma – into the pull shot. He finished with 3/27 and walked away with the Player-of-the-Match award on IPL debut.

The ball banged into the centre of the pitch at a fair clip rose awkwardly, giving no time to the batter to get into position to even attempt, let alone successfully execute, a horizontal bat shot. Ball ballooning in the air for the fielders to have a feast. Mayank’s modus operandi has been simple and it has worked again and again.

“It’s just raw pace, man,” Rabada told Hindustan Times. “He is really sharp, that’s obvious. It’s a massive weapon. He will always rush the batsman. And he’s showing some good control too.”

Mayank would prove that his outing against PBKS was not a one-off by coming up with an even better show against Royal Challengers Bengaluru on Tuesday night. This time, his victims were Cameron Green, Glenn Maxwell and Rajat Patidar. He was beating the Australians in their own game.

After being softened by two missiles of over 155 kph, Green hit a boundary but was left high and dry by a 146 kph delivery pitched in his half, for a change. The ball hit the top of off-stump and flew to the boundary. Maxwell and Patidar went the Bairstow, Prabhsimran and Jitesh way. Futile attempts to take on the short ball led to their wickets.

“He was born with the pace. Pace is not bought in the market. That’s his genuine weapon,” Rabada grinned, adding that with the two-bouncers rule in play, batters should never look to take on a bowler of his pace. “The two bouncers are helping. He’s banging it in on a back of a length. And batters are trying to take him on but ending up hitting it up. It also messes up their footwork. They’re not quite getting forward. Unless they come forward, they’ll find it hard to get on top of him. Raw pace goes a long way. Teams will have to plan carefully against him,” said the Proteas speedster.

Punjab Kings' Kagiso Rabada celebrates (PBKS-X)
Punjab Kings’ Kagiso Rabada celebrates (PBKS-X)

And it’s not as if the batters haven’t tried to use Mayank’s pace. “I tried to stay on the backfoot and use the pace,” Dhawan said. But most of the time, it didn’t work due to the 21-year-old’s immaculate merger of pace and accuracy. Mayank hasn’t bowled a single wide in the 48 deliveries – many of them over 150 kph – he has bowled so far. There were few freebies on offer, which is rare for someone who bowls at that pace.

‘Just bowl fast and don’t change anything’: Kagiso Rabada’s advise to Mayank Yadav

As was the case with Rabada. He was not 155 but was close to 150 regularly when he burst on to the scene as a 20-year-old in 2015. He knows this is just the beginning for Mayank and he needs to look after his body if he wants to keep hitting the bat rather than the other way around.

“It’s about being fresh mentally. It can be hard if we’re being called to play every single format. Almost every game, just bowling and bowling… If I look back on how I would have done things differently, perhaps I would have been more professional in looking after my body when it comes to recovery.”

Mayank hasn’t bowled a single yorker yet and there hasn’t been any evidence of notable change of pace either. Is it a cause of worry? “Nyah,” said Rabada. “Mayank can think of all that but what he must do is keep bowling fast. Enjoy the feeling of terrorising batters.”

But won’t he get too predictable? “100%,” the PBKS spearhead said. “There will come a stage where you get found out. You’re gonna have bad days, it’s inevitable. It’s about learning how to bounce back. Only through your learning you’ll understand what else you might need. Mayank doesn’t need to change the working formula. It’s about having the right balance of trying to be a step ahead and not to improvise too much, because then you might create demons in your head.”


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