Five-star Lungi Ngidi revels in hard work that led to five-for against Windies

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Lungi Ngidi.
Lungi Ngidi.
(Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
  • Proteas paceman Lungi Ngidi said his five-wicket haul came as a result of the hard work he has been putting in behind the scenes.
  • Ngidi's 5/19 was his second five-wicket haul in Test cricket and helped skittle the West Indies for 97, their lowest score against South Africa.
  • Anrich Nortje's 4/35 also made the West Indians struggle and contributed to the minuscule first innings score.

On a 14-wicket fast bowling day that resonated with the deep pace bowling traditions of South Africa and the West Indies, five scalps belonged to Lungi Ngidi.

It was a bowling effort closely surveyed by West Indian legend Sir Curtly Ambrose that took place at one of the few Caribbean islands (St Lucia) he never played Test cricket.

The five-wicket haul was Ngidi's second and his first since his breakthrough six-for on Test debut against India in 2018.

Ngidi said there was a fair bit of relief, but also reward for the hard work he has put in.

"It's been a work in progress and been a long time since I've taken a five-for, but it felt to take one today," Ngidi said.

"There's been a lot of hard work behind the scenes. At some stage, my selection for the Test team was doubtful, but I've worked hard in the gym and on my fitness.

"The important thing was the skills side and being able to swing the ball away from batters has been useful to me. Everyone could see that it was a bit emotional for me.

All the talk leading into the game was of low and slow wickets at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, but there was none of that on a green and difficult surface.

That SA were given first use of the pitch and whether it'll be advantageous for the rest of the game remains to be seen.

Ngidi though constantly guarded himself from being carried away by the generous conditions and didn't forget about his role in the bowling attack.

"You can get carried away when the ball moves around like it did, but my role definition in the team has been clear," Ngidi said.

"It's to make sure I keep one end quiet. We have a lot of quick bowlers and they were struggling with them, so me giving them nothing was part of the plan.

"It got better after lunch and felt more comfortable from the other end, my rhythm clicked and everything seemed to be going my way.

Ngidi's dissection of the middle and lower order was preceded by Anrich Nortje's pre-lunch top order demolition.

Attacking the stumps, he carved out the spine of the West Indian batting by removing Shai Hope, Kraigg Brathwaite and Kyle Mayers in a defining morning spell.

Ngidi was grateful for Nortje's spell that paved the way to his five-wicket haul.

"We've been bowling together quite a lot in the nets, in the middle and in the practice games, so I've been hunting with him," Ngidi said.

"To see him tear through the top order was something we were hoping was going to happen and the calibre of bowler he is, he executed and got us off to a good start.

"Him and Kagiso Rabada did a great job and KG's work didn't go unnoticed. Hunting as a group is something we want to instill in our bowling unit.

"We can go a long way in terms of being a world-class outfit. That's our goal and this is the perfect start."

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