Virat Kohli and Kagiso Rabada are, arguably, the two best players in world cricket today. Though the Indian captain is senior of the two, Rabada has made rapid strides since his debut in 2015 to become the premier fast-bowler in the international circuit.
When the two come face-to-face in a match, sparks are bound to fly, more so as both also don't mind getting in the face of their opponent. The two men found themselves engaged in a heated contest during the recent season of Indian Premier League (IPL) while playing for their respective teams.
KG speaks out
In an interview to ESPNCricinfo's The Cricket Monthly online magazine, Rabada divulged details about that altercation, suggesting that while the star batsman is happy to go after others, he has a thin skin when others do the same thing to him.
"I was just thinking about the game plan, really, but Virat, he hit me for a boundary and then he had a word. And then when you give it back to him, he gets angry," the 24-year old South African asserted.
But then the pacer turned the knife while analysing his rival and went to the extent of suggesting lack of maturity on his part. "I don't get the guy. Maybe he does it because it gets him going, but that comes across as very immature for me. He is a phenomenal player but he can't take the abuse," the leading member of South African pace attack added.
Comparing his own aggression to that of Kohli, Rabada said that he gets agitated only when somebody provokes him while the Indian batsman seems to remain in that state constantly. "On the bus back to the hotel, I asked myself: 'That guy (Virat) always seems to be angry on the field. Is he really angry?' Then I thought to myself what it would take for me to become really, really angry. That is going to happen very few and far times in between," the man with over 100 wickets in both ODIs and Tests explained.
He further elaborated his point by adding: "And becoming angry like that - is that what gets him to play well? Do you know what I am saying? I can't psyche myself to be angry. In fact, for me it just wakes me up, if anything. If somebody comes at me and says, 'I'm going to hit you. I'm going to clobber you. You are soft', it wakes me up because - it's a fight-or-flight response."
It must be remebered that Rabada has himself been criticised for gratuitous aggression on the field. He was even handed out a ban for abusing the batsman during the home series against Australia last year but was acquited when a review plea was filed.
However, the Protea paceman was also forthright in praising his competitor and said that the accolades showered on him are richly-deserved. "He has been phenomenal. He has been a pillar for Indian cricket over the past five years," Kagiso said.