CENTURION – Proteas Test cap No 99 belongs to Lungisani ‘Lungi’ Ngidi.
The strapping, two-metre tall, 21-year-old will make his Test debut on Saturday morning at his home-ground here, bringing to seven the number of Titans players in the starting team for the Proteas in the second Test against India.
Faf du Plessis chose to bat first upon winning the toss, with Ngidi the only change to the side.
Ngidi’s was something of a surprise selection to replace Dale Steyn, whose series ended with a badly bruised heel sustained in the first Test in Cape Town last week.
Even in his short professional career, that includes just nine first-class matches, he’s had problems with injuries, the latest of which was a stress fracture that kept him sideline for four months last year.
He only returned to the playing arena at the end of October for the Titans, starring in a nine-wicket victory against the Lions at the Wanderers.
Ngidi finished that match with figures of 9/83, having picked up six wickets in the first innings.
An alumnus of Hilton College in KwaZulu-Natal, Ngidi moved to the University of Pretoria in 2013, where he had been granted a scholarship.
He would have been in the SA Under-19 team captained by Aiden Markram that won the World Cup in 2014, but injured himself shortly before the tournament.
He became a key member of the Tukkies first team, representing them twice at the Varsity World Cup.
He’s achieved noteworthy success once elevated to the Titans franchise side, and has been part of the team that has won the last three domestic T20 Challenge titles.
Toss update: South Africa have won the toss and elected to bat first in the 2nd Test. Three changes for #TeamIndia. KL Rahul, Ishant Sharma and Parthiv Patel are in the Playing XI #SAvIND #FreedomSeries pic.twitter.com/kbj1louaSU
Ngidi made his international debut last summer, playing – and impressing – in a three-match T20 International series against Sri Lanka, finishing that series with six wickets, including a best of 4/19.
“He’s a very nice guy, has really good manners, went to a really good school,” said South African captain Faf du Plessis, who only got his first look at Ngidi bowling in the flesh at the Proteas training session on Thursday.
“I was very impressed with his bowling, he bowls a heavy ball, there’s a bright future for him.”
Indian captain Virat Kohli confirmed that Parthiv Patel would replace Wriddhiman Saha behind the stumps, KL Rahul would come in for Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order, and in a very surprising move, Ishant Sharma starts ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Teams For Centurion
South Africa: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morné Morkel, Lungi Ngidi
India: KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Parthiv Patel, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.