Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
3 minute read
13 Jan 2022
7:59 pm

Patience will be key, says Ngidi as Proteas look to chase down 212

Ken Borland

South Africa, with the in-form rookie Keegan Petersen at the crease, need another 111 runs to beat India and take the series.

Lungi Ngidi of South Africa celebrates the wicket of Virat Kohli of India during day three of the third Test between the teams at Newlands on Thursday. Picture: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

The last time South Africa won a Test at Newlands was in January 2019 when they beat Pakistan by nine wickets. It’s not that long ago, but there is nevertheless a feeling of nostalgia for a side that included such great names as Steyn, Philander, Amla, Du Plessis and De Kock.

The Proteas need 111 runs with eight wickets in hand on Friday to beat India and win the series against the world’s No 1 ranked side, so the current team certainly must have something going for them as well.

A much-criticised batting line-up will have earned themselves massive respect if they chase down targets of more than 200 in the fourth innings two weeks in a row; the new-look Proteas bowling attack has already shown that they are a force to be reckoned with.

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Lungi Ngidi has played a key role in that attack in this series and he was at the forefront at Newlands on Thursday as he spearheaded a fightback after lunch that saw South Africa reduce India from 152/4 to 198 all out.

Ngidi took 3/12 in a seven-over spell, including the key wicket of Virat Kohli, splendidly caught in the slips by a leaping Aiden Markram, for 29 to set the collapse in motion.

“From the first Test, the team has been using the sort of language that there are going to be moments when someone has to put up their hand,” Ngidi said. “We don’t have superstars but we have good players and cricketing brains.

“This time it was my session and for me the important thing was to make sure I cashed in. I did decently in the West Indies as well, but against these calibre of players this is definitely one of my best series ever.

“I’m also very proud of Marco Jansen [19.3-6-36-4], he just wants to do well for the team. He has taken to Test cricket like a duck to water and he has a very bright future,” Ngidi said.

‘You can score runs’

South Africa’s batting line-up have had many disappointing performances of late, but they are still in position to complete a remarkable series victory on the fourth day. Much will depend on rookie Keegan Petersen, who is on the brink of his third half-century in four innings as he went to stumps on 48 not out.

India’s stellar attack are going to push them all the way though and the pitch is going to offer enough assistance to still make it a fraught run-chase.

“The ball has been doing something this entire Test series and there are patches on this pitch that if the ball hits them, it does something more,” Ngidi said.

“It’s going to require patience, but we’ve seen from Rishabh Pant that you can score a hundred and there have also been a couple of seventies. So with the right application you can score runs.

“But if the bowlers hit the right areas then they can also take wickets. So it’s a good pitch – everyone is in the game and bat and ball are well-matched.

“If we can have a sixty-run partnership early tomorrow [Friday] then that will put us in position, but if they get early wickets then they are back in the game. It is very well poised,” Ngidi said.