JOHANNESBURG – The Proteas may have won their opening fixture of the home summer on Sunday, but there were concerns on the way to a five-wicket victory in Kimberley.
Chief among these was the big hole created in the top order, as Zimbabwe put the jitters on the home dressing- room, before sanity eventually prevailed.
“The wicket was a lot spicier than we thought,” conceded man-of-the-match Lungi Ngidi.
The Titans man-mountain took three for 19, as he pitched the ball up and found encouragement in the early season surface. “I am happy to continue the good form, and I took a lot of confidence from Sri Lanka,” he said in his post-match interview for television.
As he continues to forge a formidable duo with Kagiso Rabada, Ngidi maintains that his is a recipe of simplicity. “Im just keeping it simple, hitting lengths and then the pitch did the rest.”
To his pleasant surprise, Rabada even gave him the wind at his back, despite his seniority allowing him the choice.
Of course, Dale Steyn is also waiting in the wings, and Ngidi knows that there is a World Cup at the end of this season’s challenges. Thus, getting amongst the wickets is no bad thing.
“I am very happy to keep putting my hand up. I never want to be left out of selections,” he explained. “International cricket is a lovely challenge, and I am embracing it every day.”
Another who is looking to embrace it all is Heinrich Klaasen, whose run-a-ball 44 eased South Africa to the 118 target.
“I feel that I am still under pressure to secure a spot on this team. It adds a bit of pressure on me, but I enjoy it,” Klaasen said of his chance to shine, with Quinton de Kock rested for the series.
Naturally, Klaasen has always been eager to impress when he gets out to the middle, knowing full well the scramble for middle-order places.
“I felt that in Sri Lanka, I made the mistake of being over-aggressive,” he conceded. I realise that because I am naturally attacking, if I spend time at the crease, the team will be in a good position.”
As it was, that approach was handy on Sunday. He bludgeoned the spinners, and treated the seamers with a lot more caution.
This series is a real chance for Klaasen to impress, and make a case for being on the World Cup plane next May.