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T20 World Cup 2022

Lungi Ngidi deserves to move from middle-man to main man

Lungi Ngidi, South Africa's Middle-Man
by Katya Witney 4 minute read

Lungi Ngidi registered the best-ever figures for a South Africa bowler against India in the titanic Group 2 clash on Sunday. His startlingly good numbers in the middle overs fill a crucial role in South Africa’s dangerous pace attack.

KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli. India’s top order was decimated before it could get going against South Africa, quieting the swathes of India supporters packed into the Perth Stadium. Despite the nine consecutive dot balls which started the innings, it was only once Ngidi was called upon in the fifth over that the India succumbed to the pressure. It took him just two overs to remove all of India’s top three before he finished up by removing the dangerous Hardik Pandya.

South Africa’s pace attack contends for the title of the most fearsome in the 2022 T20 World Cup, and while Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada draw headlines for their aggression, express pace and movement, Ngidi has become perhaps the most important wicket-taking option for South Africa, especially in the middle overs. He has an astonishing strike rate of 11.7 in all T20Is, by far the best of any pace bowler at this tournament.


The role Ngidi fills when he has played for South Africa in this tournament gives their attack a more complete look. While his stats when opening the bowling are far from bad, it is in the middle that he comes into his own. Coming on alongside Nortje, after Wayne Parnell and Rabada have had their say, his strike-rate falls even lower. When bowling in the first change position, he takes wickets more frequently than once every 10 balls, and his average drops below 15.

Ngidi was only selected in South Africa’s side against Australia because of the bounce and pace in the Perth pitch. On commentary, Dale Steyn remarked that the pitched looked tailor made for him. When the pitches aren’t as good, Ngidi isn’t an automatic fixture in South Africa’s T20I side, Mark Boucher preferring to try and fit two spinners in wherever possible.

Following their performance against India however, it is hard to see how South Africa can split their quartet of fast bowlers up. Both Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi have had quiet years in limited overs cricket, and, as expected, spinners have not had the most successful of tournaments so far in Australia. With a plethora of high-quality quicks in the squad, give any side who has to face them the option of reducing their number by one and surely they would take it.

For someone who has not managed to nail down an automatic spot in South Africa’s team across all three formats, clues as to why cannot be found in any of Ngidi’s stats. In 15 Tests, he’s taken 49 wickets at an average of just over 20, with three five-wicket hauls. It’s a similar story in ODIs where Ngidi’s taken 66 wickets in 40 matches. Injury and the ever-churning factory of South African pace bowlers has meant that while on paper his stats speak for themselves, he hasn’t become the talisman that Kagiso Rabada has, or come into a major tournament with hype and expectation of Nortje.

Nevertheless, as he ripped through the India batters at the Optus, Ngidi reminded the world of just how dangerous he is, and firmly claimed his spot as one of South Africa’s four horsemen.

Bet365 will be Live Streaming all of the T20 World Cup matches direct to your iPhone, iPad or Android device, as well as desktop. This means that every T20 World Cup fixture will be available to bet365 customers wherever they are in the world.

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