Anrich Nortje enjoys building bowling partnership with Wiaan Mulder
By Stuart Hess 33m ago
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JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s bowlers adopted a simple plan which bore fruit on the opening day of the second Test against Sri Lanka on Sunday. Bowl dot balls, build pressure and take wickets.
It took just over an hour for the plan to come together, but when it did, Sri Lanka duly collapsed. It was Wiaan Mulder who set the tone for the home team, picking up three wickets in a three over spell before lunch in which he conceded just one run.
“We are not trying to make miracles here,” said Anrich Nortje, who finished with figures of 6/56, the best of his career so far as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 157.
“After the Centurion match where we were either too wide, or then bowled both sides of the wicket, we spoke about just keeping it simple, building the dot balls, creating that pressure and then the wickets will follow.”
Mulder did that perfectly, and his role in this young South African side is growing increasingly important each day. Having picked up five wickets in the first Test, he claimed 3/25 here at his home ground, including the crucial wicket of Kusal Perera, who’d dominated the opening hour after Sri Lanka had chosen to bat, and top scored with 60.
“Wiaan’s doing an unbelievable job,” said Nortje. “The rest of us are all fairly quick, but he fills a gap, just puts the ball in the right area consistently, doesn’t concede runs and is taking wickets.”
Nortje added that Mulder provided the opportunity for the bowlers to build partnerships and put pressure on the Sri Lanka batsmen. “Just like partnerships are important for the batsmen, it’s important for us as bowlers too. With Wiaan, keeping it tight at his end – while taking wickets – it allows the rest of us a little bit more freedom. He’s helped us tremendously, and when you consider what he can do with the bat, he is filling in a major spot for us.”
Nortje happily followed the example, Mulder had set, especially after lunch when he did the most damage. “I just wanted to keep it tight, really focus on bowling dot balls, and that gave us opportunities.”
For Sri Lanka it was another difficult day at the office. Perera was the only one who looked comfortable against the pace of the South African attack. “I like the pace and bounce here and I can attack the fast bowling,” he said of his adventurous innings that included 11 fours.
His teammates however, were less comfortable. “Our batsmen are not used to the pace and bounce here,” said Perera.
South Africa will resume on 148/1 on Monday, trailing Sri Lanka by nine runs. Dean Elgar on 92 and Rassie van der Dussen on 40 will continue their second wicket partnership which is worth 114 runs. “They have batted very well,” said Nortje. “They were both patient, and then when they got a couple of straight balls and half volleys later, they put them away.
“We are hoping to bat just once and then attack their batsmen again.”