Delhi Daredevils were dealt a huge blow after their pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada was ruled out of the Indian Premier League 2018 due to a lower-back injury, just days before they were to start their campaign. In a statement issued by the Cricket South Africa, Proteas Team Manager Mohammad Moosajee said,  “Kagiso has been diagnosed with a lower back stress reaction which will rule him out of cricket action for up to three months. He will need a month’s break from all physical activity before commencing with a rehabilitation programme to get him ready for the series against Sri Lanka in July.”

The 22-year old has been the star performer for his national side ever since making his debut back in 2015. Rabada is the current No. 1 Test bowler and played a vital role in South Africa’s test series victories over India and Australia this year. His international duties finished just last Tuesday after South Africa completed a historic 3-1 series victory over arch-rivals Australia. In a series surrounded by controversies, featuring both sides; Rabada did the talking both with the ball and with his mouth for which he was later punished accordingly. He was the leading wicket-taker with 23 scalps at an average of 19.23 and a best of 6-54.

ALSO READ: IPL 2018: Rejuvenated Delhi Daredevils hope for change in fortunes as Gambhir and Ponting take charge

In the series against India, Rabada contributed both with the bat and ball by scoring dodgy runs lower down the order and then ripping through the Indian batting lineup. His on-field rivalry against Indian captain Virat Kohli was the talking point of the series as two of the best players in the world went up against each other. In all, he picked 15 wickets in the three tests (joint-most) at an average of 20.67 and a strike rate of 41.

However, he was seen struggling with his fitness in the last test as it was clear that the workload had started to take a toll on him. After the 4th test, citing concerns over his workload, Rabada said, “Something I have to think about and plan moving forward is how to have some time off. It is very important because you ultimately want to play for 10 to 15 years and you’ve got to have some sort of plan. You can’t just drift through it.” Rabada has played all the 10 tests and 8 out of the 9 ODIs for South Africa this summer since their first test against Bangladesh in September.

ALSO READ: IPL 2018: It will be difficult for Alex Hales to fill David Warner’s shoes, says Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Rabada made his IPL debut last year and proved to be a successful buy for the Daredevils, in an otherwise lacklustre season for the franchise.  He was retained by the DD management in the 2018 player auction using their RTM for RS. 4.2 crore. Although they still have pacers like Boult, Morris, Shami, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Dan Christian and Sayan Ghosh in their ranks, it would be interesting to see as to who the team management chooses as Rabada’s replacement before their season opener against the Kings XI Punjab on April 8. Rabada after being sidelined from the 11th edition of the tournament joined the likes of Mitchell Starc (KKR), Nathan Coulter-Nile (RCB), Mitchell Santner (CSK) and  Jason Behrendorff (MI) who too would miss this year’s season due to injuries, apart from Steve Smith and David Warner who remain suspended. 

Probable Replacements: Dale Steyn, David Willey, Ish Sodhi and Jhye Richardson.