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Lungi Ngidi looks rusty, while spin bizarrely dominates first day at the Wanderers

Lungi Ngidi looks rusty, while spin bizarrely dominates first day at the Wanderers

Johannesburg — South Africa is still the land of the bloodthirsty fast bowler, right?

Newlands offered a hint of evidence that that was the case with Western Province’s seam quartet dismissing the woeful Knights for 110 in 40 overs on the opening day of their Cricket SA 4-Day Series clash on Thursday. Elsewhere however, spin dominated. That is unsurprising for Kingsmead, but the Wanderers? There was bounce but typically at “The Bullring”, the pace on the opening day was sluggish. However, what was unusual was the amount of spin on offer which Simon Harmer used to his advantage.

The Lions’ batters looked bemused when the second delivery from the off-spinner did strange things. Rassie van der Dussen beckoned opener partner, Josh Richards to have a look at the surface with the Proteas batter animatedly pointing out an area on a good length. The very next ball, delivered from around the wicket, ripped from outside off stump and only just missed it. Then Van der Dussen, clearly spooked, swept the fourth delivery and was caught at backward square leg for 30.

Until that Harmer over, he and Richards were very much in control, taking advantage of listless bowling from the Titans, who wasted the new ball. Lungi Ngidi, playing his first match since the Proteas’ disastrous exit from the T20 World Cup three weeks ago, delivered the ball here, there and everywhere in a first spell in which he conceded 16 runs.

Lizaad Williams, called up to the Proteas touring squad this week in place of the injured Glenton Stuurman, wasn’t much better. Ngidi’s case is more urgent however, given he is a likely starter in the first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane, in three weeks’ time.

The Titans were very meticulous in how he was used – each of his spells consisted of three overs, just one of which came in the middle session, when Harmer’s success motivated the visiting captain Sibonelo Makhanya to use more spin in the shape of Neil Brand.

Ngidi got better in his third and fourth spells, with his line more consistent than it had been in the morning.

While he finished wicketless, at least his outing contained greater relevance than Anrich Nortje, who is warming up for the Test series Down Under by playing in the T10 League in Abu Dhabi. Nortje bowled two overs for the Samp Army in their victory over the Bangla Tigers. Dwaine Pretorius, who is not in the Test squad, picked up three wickets and was named man of the match.

Back in Johannesburg, Harmer, who is also in the Test squad, finished with 6/48 from 32 overs, his 51st five-wicket haul in first-class cricket. The threat of lightning halted play with the Lions on 246/6, their innings anchored by a fine century by 23-year-old Josh Richards, who scored 107.

At the spinner’s paradise that is Kingsmead, the Dolphins’ trio of tweakers, which include Keshav Maharaj, spun out Boland for 211 in 65.3 overs – seven of which were bowled by seamers. Maharaj took 3/80 in 29 overs, while Jon-Jon Smuts finished with 5/55.

@shockerhess

IOL Sport

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