Perth, Oct 31 (UiTV/IANS) – Tall and powerfully-built South African fast bowler Lungi Ngidi has had a mixed bag of success in the limited T20 Internationals that he has played against India this year.
He was picked for two of the five matches in the bilateral series held in India in June and then again in two matches out of five in the series held earlier this month before the start of the ICC T20 World Cup now on in Australia.
In the last two games at Guwahati and Indore, he had been expensive giving away 49 and 51 runs respectively while scalping two Indian batsmen in the latter match on October 4.
Thus it was not surprising to learn from him after he had demolished the star Indian batting line-up with an incisive spell of fast bowling that fetched him four wickets, including those of captain Rohit Sharma and former skipper Virat Kohli, that he was surprised to be told that he was playing the crucial game at the Perth Stadium.
“It was a bit of a nerve-wracking day. To be honest we didn’t know who was playing till this afternoon. That I was playing was a bit of a surprise to me. But you have a job to do for your country. Happy to perform here,” said the 26-year-old playing his 34th T20I game.
Ngidi scalped KL Rahul, Rohit, Kohli and Hardik Pandya, three of those by hitting the deck. Rohit and Rahul were taken out with the second and last ball of his first over, the fifth of the innings.
Rohit was lured with a short ball that he tried to pull and put up a tame return catch while Rahul was beaten and edged a ball that bounced and moved away.
Kohli was baited with another short ball that he hooked down fine leg’s throat and then Pandya pulled another short ball going down the leg to the same fielder Kagiso Rabada at long leg.
Ngidi literally broke the back of the innings and with Anrich Nortje accounting for Deepak Hooda, a surprise inclusion in place of Axar Patel, cheaply India was facing down the barrel at 49 for five.
That they finally tallied 133 for 9 was only due to the fine counter-attacking knock by Suryakumar Yadav who made a cracking 68 in 40 balls with the help of three sixes and six fours and then was eighth out.
Ngidi has a better haul of 5/39 against England in July this year at Bristol and another impressive haul of 4/19 against Sri Lanka at Johannesburg in his second match in January 2017.
He considers Sunday night’s blistering spell as among his best and said he rated Kohli’s wicket as the best of the four as the Indian star was attacking him with boundary hits.
Kohli struck the young fast bowler for two fours in successive balls with a glorious straight drive and a flick, but Ngidi made him hook once more and the catch was well taken by Rabada.
“Against England we came around as the losing side. Having not played much in this World Cup, and to come up with this performance, I could not have asked for a better day in terms of cricketing performance. It is probably one of my (career) best,” Ngidi said.
“I probably will say Virat. He hit me for two boundaries and probably tried to attack me a bit. Bowling that ball that I bowled I knew he will probably go for it — try and maximise for the over. Luck was on my side that it went to hand (of the fielder). It could have gone for another boundary,” he commented when queried about which of the four wickets pleased him the most.
He conceded that playing in the Indian Premier League over the years (he is currently with Chennai Super Kings), has helped him immensely in his T20 game.
“IPL has helped me a lot. You play against these guys pretty much most of the time. You find out about the weaknesses of certain batsmen. But on the other side I think India playing us will know what we are going to bring,” he explained.
He was also happy with the nature of the track that was on offer and helped the fast bowlers.
“There was a bit of pace and bounce. You need to avoid giving width to the batsmen. You tuck the batsmen up by trying to dig into the wicket. I don’t think we got much swing other than (Wayne) Parnell. We had to resort to hitting the deck,” according to Ngidi.
The other star bowling display for South Africa came from left-arm bowler Parnell who took 3 for 15 after opening the attack.
Parnell said the key was not to get carried away by the help from the wicket.
“Sometimes you get carried away by the wicket. I thought there would be some swing,” said Parnell after the match.
“I don’t think it was an easy wicket for the batsmen. 10-15 runs more would have been a winning total,” he felt after South Africa rode on Aiden Markram’s 52 in 41 balls and left-handed batter David Miller’s unbeaten 59, containing three sixes and four fours, in 46 balls to cross the finish line.
South Africa had recovered from 2 down for 3, in the second over from impressive Indian left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh, to clinch the match.
“It is strange. Spinners were bowing in the powerplay (earlier),” he said when asked about left-arm bowlers’ impressive displays of late in T20 cricket.
He said although it was cold in Perth, it was colder in Hobart, Tasmania. “It was a lot warmer than Hobart. It is a little bit cooler but you need to get on with it,” he commented.