Cricket

Lungi Ngidi should be promoted from middleman to leader.

In the pivotal Group 2 match on Sunday, Lungi Ngidi bowled against India with the best-ever stats for a South African bowler. His astonishingly strong performance in the middle overs is essential to South Africa’s threatening pace assault.

KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma. India’s top order collapsed against South Africa before it could get underway, quieting the throngs of Indian fans crammed into Perth Stadium. Even though the innings began with nine straight dot balls, India didn’t buckle under the pressure until Ngidi came into the game in the fifth over. He eliminated all three of India’s best players in only two overs before concluding by eliminating the dangerous Hardik Pandya.

While Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada get attention for their aggressiveness, express speed, and movement during the 2022 T20 World Cup, Ngidi has evolved into possibly the most crucial wicket-taking option for South Africa, particularly in the middle overs. He leads all speed bowlers in this competition with the greatest strike rate of 11.7 throughout all T20Is.

When Ngidi has played for South Africa in this tournament, he performs a role that provides their assault a more complete appearance. Although his statistics when bowling first are far from poor, he really shines in the middle. His strike rate drops even further when he replaces Nortje after Wayne Parnell and Rabada have finished speaking. He gets wickets more regularly than once every 10 balls when bowling in the first change position, and his average falls below 15.

Only because of Perth’s pitch’s bounce and speed was Ngidi included in South Africa’s lineup against Australia. Dale Steyn said in a commentary that the offer appeared to be tailored just for him. Ngidi isn’t always a part of South Africa’s T20I team when the wickets aren’t as excellent; Mark Boucher like to attempt to fit two spinners in wherever feasible.

But it is difficult to see how South Africa can divide up their quartet of fast bowlers after their performance against India. In limited overs cricket, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi have both had quiet years, and spinners haven’t had the best of campaigns so far in Australia, as was to be expected. Give any team that has to play them the choice of cutting their number by one since they have so many excellent quicks on the roster, and they will undoubtedly choose to do so.

There are no hints in any of Ngidi’s numbers as to why he hasn’t been able to secure an automatic position in South Africa’s team in any of the three forms. He has taken 49 wickets in 15 Test matches at an average of slightly over 20, including three five-wicket hauls. In 40 ODI games, Ngidi has captured 66 wickets, which is equivalent to the ODI format. While on paper his statistics speak for themselves, he hasn’t developed into the talisman like Kagiso Rabada has, nor has he entered a major tournament with excitement and anticipation of Nortje due to injury and the constantly producing factory of South African fast bowlers.

Ngidi, though, reminded the world of exactly how dangerous he is and firmly asserted his place as one of South Africa’s four horsemen when he tore through the India batters at the Optus.

 

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