Ziyaad Abrahams hopes to emulate Kagiso Rabada

Ziyaad Abrahams is one three South African bowlers to have taken six-wicket hauls at the youth level. He idolises Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shaun Pollock, but hopes his career will follow the path of another young South Africa seamer

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
The South African Under-19s team is dejected after their loss to Namibia Under-19s, Namibia v South Africa, Under-19 World Cup 2016, Cox's Bazar, January 31, 2016

Ziyaad Abrahams picked up two wickets against Namibia, but conceded the single that sealed South Africa's defeat  •  ICC

South Africa's Ziyaad Abrahams says that he bowls medium-fast, but when you see him run off the 14 steps, stretch his arms out to the fullest and deliver the ball with a marginal sling and a hard pump in the follow-through, he seems much quicker.
In the game against Namibia, Abrahams tried as hard as the other South Africa bowlers to defend a small total but it was his off his bowling that Fritz Coetzee took the sharp single to win Namibia the game, and leave Abrahams in his haunches.
Abraham had bowled 8.3 overs with enough effort, taking 2 for 18. But that was not enough, and as he walked off with the cap pulled down on his face, you could make out that he was spent for the day. He went wicketless against Scotland, bowling six overs for 18 runs. He seemed like a patient bowler.
Abrahams comes across as a patient an upright young man. He has taken inspiration from Kagiso Rabada's performance from the 2014 Under-19 World Cup. Like Rabada, he is one of three South African bowlers at this level to take six-wicket hauls. Growing up, it was Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis who gave him goosebumps with their late swing and yorkers, after which he followed Shaun Pollock closely. His bowling action, though not intended, has mild similarities with Pollock in the way he extends his non-bowling arm high up.
About two years ago, Abrahams was lucky to spend a few hours with Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir at the Boardwalk Hotel in Port Elizabeth where over pastas and curries, they spoke about cricket and what it is to be a humble person. Amla later spent some time with the Under-19 squad in 2015, talking personally to each player. But for Abrahams, that dinner gave him a sense of what it is like playing at the highest level.
"About two years ago, I had dinner with Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir," Abrahams told ESPNcricinfo. "We were just chatting about how it is being up there. They said hard work will always pay off. I think the way he [Amla] dresses himself towards the game, how humble he is. Taking the logo off, that just shows the respect for him. The others look up to him also. I asked them a few questions. They are very humble people. They always make their namaaz five times a day."
Abrahams comes from a family of cricketers with his father, brother and uncle all having played in Port Elizabath, his childhood home. He started off as an offspinner and then tried leg-spin before his father told him to bowl pace.
"I started off playing soccer at the age of three. I grew up with sports. My dad and uncles played cricket. They played for Western Province and Eastern Province. I grew up in Port Elizabeth. I played my first senior game at the age of 10. I was fortunate to play with my dad. I started off as a right-arm offspinner but four years ago I switched to pace bowling.
"My father is also an opening bowler. I have a brother who played a part in my career. His name is Shaakir Abrahams and he bowls left-arm spin. They stay in Port Elizabeth at the moment. I moved out of Port Elizabeth to Cape Town when I was in Grade eight. I bowled legspin in that first year in Cape Town so my dad suggested that I bowl pace because I was quicker and stronger than the other boys in the first team of my school, the Western Cape Sports School. I picked up lots of wickets for them."
Abrahams made it to the South Africa Under-19s through good performances for the Western Province Under-17s team for whom he picked up 12 wickets in a tournament in Stellenbosch. Then, in Gauteng, he was the leading wicket-taker with 15 scalps.
"My strength is to hit the areas. I think more or less, hitting the good lines, keeping the pressure building and bowling my yorkers in the death overs. This is what I am good at," he said, and he was quite accurate in the self-assessment.
Abrahams' immediate aim after the Under-19 World Cup is to get a contract in South Africa's franchise cricket. He dreams of playing for South Africa one day, and said that he was inspired by how Rabada made it to the national team soon after playing the Under-19 World Cup. The lessons from his dinner with Amla and Tahir would also be handy. Maybe if he can ride high like Rabada, there would a few more of those dinners.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84