Lungi Ngidi’s first scalp settles early nerves at India Test
SA’s newest fast bowler on the five-day circuit, Lungi Ngidi, was so nervous ahead of his first ball he was not sure if he could let go of the delivery, but he ended the day with his first wicket and a run-out in the second Test against India on Sunday.
"I was very nervous, I thought with my first ball I wasn’t going to let it go I was holding it so tight," Ngidi, 21, told the SuperSport channel.
"But once I let it go I got the feeling that this was my moment and I need to grab it with both hands. After that I just started running in."
Ngidi is playing in just his 10th first-class match of a blossoming career and, despite his nerves, showcased his rich potential with the wicket of Parthiv Patel, the run-out of Cheteshwar Pujara and very nearly the dismissal of Indian captain Virat Kohli, who ended the day on 85 not out.
India are 183/5 in their first innings, trailing by 152 runs on a slow wicket that has bounce but little lateral movement.
The tall, powerful seamer has shown excellent form in domestic cricket to earn his call-up to the Test side in the place of the injured Dale Steyn, having made his Twenty20 international debut against Sri Lanka 12 months ago. He recorded figures of 1/26 in nine overs on Sunday for a satisfactory start to his Test career.
His first wicket was a textbook delivery around the wicket to Patel, a ball that pitched and deviated away from the left-hander, inducing an edge to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
"Having Vern [Philander] at mid-off really helped a lot, the game plans that he tells me and we work on, they really make sense to me," Ngidi said.
"So after changing the angle [to come around the wicket] I saw the ball was going away from the left-hander and that it was a better option."
Ngidi had earlier thought he had Kohli trapped plumb in front of middle stump but after his appeal was turned down and SA reviewed the decision, replays showed the skipper had got the faintest of edges to the ball.
"He kept moving around the crease and stepping in front of off-stump so I thought maybe I should shoot one in there to see if I could trap him lbw like the last Test when Vern got him. I thought I had him," Ngidi said.
Despite SA’s seam attack not getting the assistance from the wicket they had hoped for, Ngidi backed them to get the side a first-innings lead.
"They have given us a sniff and our bowling line-up is pretty fired up to keep taking sticks. The wicket might be a little slow but the guys are running in hard so there will be a bit of movement," he said.
"It’s cricket, whatever wicket you are given you have to play on. We just want to make the best of what we have."
Earlier, captain Faf du Plessis made 63 before the hosts were bowled out for 335. He battled for 217 minutes and faced 142 balls before he was ninth man out, bowled when he went for a big hit against Ishant Sharma.
Sharma took two of the four wickets that fell, finishing with 3/46 and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took 4/113.
India dropped three catches, all off Ashwin. Kagiso Rabada, who made 11, was dropped by Kohli when he had one, with the batsman taking two runs. He was put down at point off the next ball when Hardik Pandya was obstructed by Mohammed Shami. Du Plessis was dropped by wicketkeeper Patel off Ashwin on 54.