Proteas: Uncertainty remains over 'improving' Ngidi

Lungi Ngidi (Getty)
Lungi Ngidi (Getty)

Cardiff - The Proteas will have celebrated Saturday's World Cup win over Afghanistan in Cardiff, but preparations will swiftly turn to a must-win clash against New Zealand in Birmingham on Wednesday. 

Having bowled first at Sophia Gardens, South Africa knocked over their opposition for just 125 before chasing down a revised total of 127 with only one wicket down. 

It was a clinical result for a side that needed one desperately.  

Afghanistan will certainly not be the toughest opposition the Proteas face at the tournament, but Saturday's performance will go a long way towards making this side believe again.

The bowling display, in particular, was impressive. 

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir finished with figures of 4/29 while there were also handy contributions from allrounders Chris Morris (3/13) and Andile Phehlukwayo (2/18).

Opening bowler Beuran Hendricks, bowling for the first time at the tournament since replacing Dale Steyn in the squad, had moments of promise but went wicketless on the day. 

Looking ahead to New Zealand, skipper Faf du Plessis is hopeful that he will be able to call on Lungi Ngidi. 

The 23-year-old speedster has not played since South Africa's second match of the tournament against Bangladesh at The Oval on June 2, when he left the field after bowling just four overs with a hamstring strain. 

He was not picked against Afghanistan with a longer vision in mind, but speaking after Saturday's match Du Plessis could not say with 100% certainty that Ngidi would be fully fit for New Zealand. 

"I'm hoping that he would be 100 percent. From what I'm hearing from the physios is that that will happen; they're pretty confident," Du Plessis said.

"But we were also pretty confident a week ago, so that took a little bit longer.

"It's just literally seeing how his body goes. As I said, he's coming off one or two injuries in a row. He bowled again today. Tomorrow we're on a travelling day.

"Our plan is to make sure he gets his load up as well, because there's one thing having an injury, but secondly he hasn't bowled a lot of overs.

"When you come into ODI cricket, it's not just like playing three overs and the next just going through action. You need to be on.

"Intensity needs to be at 100 percent, because if you are bowling not 100 percent, then the opposition will take you down. So I'm hoping that he will be at 100 percent."

While Du Plessis still has his concerns over Ngidi, he doesn't think the situation will require him to be replaced in the squad as was the case with Steyn earlier in the tournament.

"I don't think it's that serious," said the captain.

"Dale was obviously a little bit more serious. We were hoping we would see results and it just almost went backwards.

"But with Lungi, we're seeing it the other way around; he's improving. Now I think it's just a case of getting his fitness levels back in. I think he'll be fine for the next game."

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...  

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