“Ngidi has so far played all the formats for South Africa and tasted success more or less everywhere. He is a versatile bowler and with age being on his side, one can only expect him to get better. As of now, his career graph is on a hike and has been learning with every outing”.
Most of the talks surrounding the series have been about the wrist-spinners and Virat Kohli’s pristine form. The series may have been done and dusted for South Africa with India gaining an unassailable lead of 4-1 in the six-match series, but the struggling side does have a lot of positives to take from this thrashing.
After an impressive run in the Test series, Lungi Ngidi has managed to find a rhythm in the 50-over format as well. He has a knack of snatching man of the match awards on debut, he did it on his Twenty20 International debut and replicated the same in whites. But unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do the same on his ODI debut at Cape Town. After a wicketless outing in his maiden game, Ngidi did well in Johannesburg, picking two wickets to get things going as South Africa won their first game of the series.
Ngidi makes for an ideal fast bowler. With a lanky stature and a well-built physique, Ngidi’s presence is intimidating at the crease and inspires confidence. He is quick and clocks the 140 kmph mark with ease. With an easy and clean action, Ngidi is equally equipped to put in the hard yards with the new ball as well as in the death. One shouldn’t forget, it is not easy to stand out in this South African pace attack, they have a pool of fine pace bowlers.
Coming to Port Elizabeth, the pressure was on South Africa and needed a win at any cost to keep the series alive. They opted to bowl first against the high on confidence Indian attack and the challenge was huge. South Africa were without the services of few key players, which was only adding to the pressure.
India were right on the money with their top-order once again firing with all cylinders and looked on course to achieve a mammoth total. After Shikhar Dhawan’s fall, Ngidi was introduced into the attack in the 11th over. He didn’t get an ideal start as a well set Rohit Sharma smashed him for a six on the third delivery. He bowled four overs in his first spell without any success.
Creating an impact with the white ball
India were cruising towards a massive total and South Africa were running out of options. At 236 for 3 inside 43 overs, a total of 300 above looked achievable by looking at the depth India had in heir batting. Rohit Sharma had reached the 100-run mark and was looking to accelerate. Ngidi was brought back into the attack in the 41st over.
He was not having a good day with the ball and was struggling to find his rhythm. He often gave too much of room and erred in length, on which Indian batsmen did capitalise. At times, a push, or a wicket is just what needed to motivate a bowler. Ngidi leaked 11 runs from his fifth over and captain Aiden Markram didn’t have enough alternatives. He needed Ngidi to rediscover his mojo and hit the right areas.
In his second over, Ngidi produced a delivery that got rid of a well set Rohit Sharma. The ball was too close to the body for Rohit to cut and was undone with the extra bounce that Ngidi extracted from the surface. The partnership was broken and from this juncture, Ngidi looked like a different bowler altogether.
Hard-hitting Hardik Pandya walked in, his prowess with the bat is well-known and the situation was tailor-made for someone like him to fire, but Ngidi had other ideas. The right-handed batsman was handed a golden duck when a speedy delivery, which stayed low and nipped in, kissed his willow back to the keeper. This over changed the course of the game, South Africa were back into the game and Ngidi was not done yet.
Ngidi got rid of a well set Shreyas Iyer and then sent MS Dhoni back to the pavilion. Iyer was beaten by sheer pace while Dhoni was undone by a slower delivery. His spell changed the course of the match in South Africa’s favour. India were now struggling to hit the 300-run mark and were eventually restricted to 274 runs in their 50 overs. Ngidi hardly made any error in his second spell and delivered when his team needed the most.
South Africa had a chance to keep themselves alive in the tournament as the target was well within their reach. But another batting failure didn’t let them achieve fruitful results. Ngidi’s heroics went in vain, but did well to bring his side back into the game. He is another solid addition to South Africa’s awe-inspiring pace attack and today’s performance was a testament to what’s in the store.
Ngidi has so far played all the formats for South Africa and tasted success more or less everywhere. He is a versatile bowler and with age being on his side, one can only expect him to get better. As of now, his career graph is on a hike and has been learning with every outing. With a game to go, South Africa will be hoping to finish the series on a winning note and carry the momentum in the T20I series. Ngidi, on the other hand, will look to cement his spot in the side with some emphatic performance in the games to come.