CAPE TOWN – Just as it seems as if they were bowling their way into the Proteas World Cup squad, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje have been stopped in their tracks.
They have both been ruled out of the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL), where Nortje was due to play for the Kolkata Knight Riders and Ngidi for the Chennai Super Kings.
The 25-year-old from Port Elizabeth announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he will not be travelling to India.
“Unfortunately due to a shoulder injury I’ve had to pull out of the @IPL. I wish @KKRiders all the best and bring the trophy back home!! #KKRHaiTaiyaar” he said.
Cricket South Africa said in a statement on Wednesday that Ngidi stopped bowling during the last ODI against Sri Lanka at Newlands last Saturday due to a left side strain.
Proteas team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee added: “Lungi felt discomfort while bowling during the last ODI against Sri Lanka at Newlands, and immediately stopped bowling.
“Further scans revealed a Grade II muscle strain, which will need up to four weeks of rest followed by a rehab programme leading up to the World Cup.
“Nortje sustained a right shoulder injury and will be sidelined for six weeks. Unfortunately this injury will rule him out of the upcoming IPL, but with the World Cup in sight, it is important for us to make sure all of the World Cup hopefuls will be fit for selection.”
But while Ngidi is a sure bet to make the SA squad, the injury comes as a big blow for Nortje.
He has impressed captain Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson with his genuine pace during the ODI series against Sri Lanka, and would also have played against Pakistan if it wasn’t for an ankle injury.
The IPL starts this Saturday, and continues until May 19 – just 11 days before the Proteas play their first World Cup match against England at The Oval in London.
It would’ve presented Nortje with an ideal opportunity to make one final bid for a spot in the South African squad.
Unfortunately due to a shoulder injury I've had to pull out of the @IPL. I wish @KKRiders all the best and bring the trophy back home!! #KKRHaiTaiyaar
But now his absence could open up doors for a two other contenders. Chris Morris has been out of the ODI team, although he will get a chance to show Gibson what he can do in the two remaining T20 Internationals against Sri Lanka this week.
Morris has also been a top performer at the IPL, and will look to have a big season for the Delhi Capitals after missing last year’s tournament due to injury.
There is little doubt about Morris’ batting exploits at the end of an innings, but it is his bowling that will need to improve in order to push for a World Cup spot.
That last point may see Junior Dala also come into consideration.
The Titans paceman hasn’t been given a consistent run in the national set-up, having played in just two ODIs and eight T20Is.
But the 29-year-old is in red-hot form for his franchise in the One-Day Cup, having taken 16 scalps to be on top of the leading wicket-takers’ list.