India vs South Africa: Why Virat Kohli & Co should be careful of the Lungi Ngidi threat
The last time South Africa played a bilateral one day international series on Indian soil, they went on to win 3-2. It was the first and only series win for the Proteas in India. Apart from the batsmen from both sides, who made merry on flat tracks, the one bowler who stood out was the young Kagiso Rabada. Rabada and Dale Steyn picked up ten wickets a piece in the series but it was the youngster’s ability to keep a cool head in crunch situations that helped SA trump MS Dhoni’s team.
Five years later, another young South African paceman is looking to make his mark in Indian conditions. Lungi Ngidi played a decisive role in the Test series played between the two countries in early 2018. The youngster troubled Indian batsmen and helped South Africa clinch a closely fought series 2-1. He followed that up with 10 wickets in the ODI series against India but the team didn’t do well. Those performances came in helpful conditions and Ngidi had to prove himself further.
The young speedster was picked up by Chennai Super Kings and he produced the goods for the ‘Yellow Brigade’ in their comeback season in 2018. 11 wickets in 7 matches at a stunning economy of 6 helped Ngidi shine in a team full of seasoned superstars as CSK strolled their way to the title. The youngster though has struggled with injuries, which led to him to miss IPL 2019.
Ngidi though has made a good comeback and that has come at a time when South African cricket is going through a phase of transition. A poor outing at the 2019 ICC World Cup meant heads rolled and a new management is looking to take the team back to its glory days. The Proteas recently completed a 3-0 whitewash over Australia at home and Ngidi was at the centre of that success. With 27 wickets in 14 matches, Ngidi is South Africa’s most successful bowler in ODIs since 2019. His performance this year has been prolific, picking up 12 wickets in 4 matches.
The bounce he generates is disconcerting for batsmen and with the Indians still reeling from the impact of twin whitewashes in New Zealand, Ngidi could pose a potent threat. A look at the head to head records and Indian captain Virat Kohli holds an edge over the paceman in 50-over format. Ngidi though has dismissed the likes of Shikhar Dhawan in the past and definitely has the number of Shreyas Iyer.
For India though the man in form is KL Rahul and the duel between these two could well decide which way the series will go.