Career-best Nortje goes full-blown enforcer as Proteas roll over Sri Lanka

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Anrich Nortje (AFP)
Anrich Nortje (AFP)

He's considered the bully of the Proteas attack, but Anrich Nortje hearteningly backed up that perception with wickets as he decimated the Sri Lankan batting order on the opening day of the second Test at the Wanderers on Sunday.

LIVE | South Africa v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test

The 27-year-old quick love affair with the ground continued as he returned career-best figures of 6/56 in 14.3 potent overs, in the process dismissing the visitors for a paltry 157 after they won the toss and chose to bat first. 

It improved on his maiden five-wicket haul in the pinnacle format of the game, the 5/110 he took against England at the same ground last season.

South Africa reached 22/0 already by the tea break.

Actively focusing on channeling his aggression more purposely, Nortje reaped the rewards.

His didn't start off in a particularly penetrative manner before his short-pitched strategy finally bore fruit in his fifth over when he had the virtually stroke-less Dimuth Karunaratne (2) caught behind with a ripper of a delivery.

However, after falling victim to Sri Lankan opener Kusal Perera's freewheeling, attacking stroke-play to an extent after that, Nortje required a spectacular burst from Wiaan Mulder to find his mojo again. 

The 22-year-old Highveld Lions star, who actually labels himself batting all-rounder, struck twice in his second over to turn the tide for the home side after Perera's knock did its best to ridicule bullish pre-match expectations that South Africa's attack would steamroll the visitors.

After opening with a maiden, Mulder - whose seamers seemed ideally suited to a slower Bullring surface - got a delivery to slant across the dangerous Perera, who got a thick edge to a half-hearted drive.

It was a vital wicket as the 29-year-old - a hero on Sri Lanka's tour here in 2019 - had monopolised the scoring up to that point in galloping to 60 off 67 deliveries.

Buoyed by Perera's wicket, Mulder snapped up Kusal Mendis four deliveries later, keeping his line tight again and exploiting the batsmen's hard hands towards the ball.

In his next over, he had Lahiru Thirimanne (17) caught in the slips after the left-hander shaped to play to leg.

Not to be denied, Nortje polished an excellent session for the hosts by dismissing debutant Minod Bhanuka with some extra bounce that found the splice of the bat.

Back from lunch, the Warriors ace ran riot.

Adopting a fuller line, Nortje had Niroshan Dickwella caught off a booming drive after Quinton de Kock brilliantly dove in front first slip to hold a skilful catch.

He went shorter for his next two victims, Dasun Shanaka (2) and Dushmantha Chameera (22), who both strangely went for reviews before he comprehensively castled last man and debutant Asitha Fernando.

It was just reward for a considered performance.

Mulder's intervention confirmed that his excellent form with the ball would continue, though he did tail off significantly after lunch. 



Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock (captain), Temba Bavuma, Wiaan Mulder, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla 

Sri Lanka

Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Minod Bhanuka, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Vishwa Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Asitha Fernando. 

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