21 –year-old Lungi Ngidi made a dream Test debut in the second Test against India recently. He picked up 6/39 in the second innings to help South Africa win the match and the series and got the Man of the Match award for it.
Ngidi also became a household name thanks to his pace and for the fact that he was brought by Chennai Super Kings for the IPL 2018. Livemint.com caught up with Ngidi and here are some excerpts from the interview.
Speaking about why he became a fast bowler, Ngidi said, “My parents couldn’t afford to buy me cricket kits. Even when I went for trials and was selected for district competitions, I never had batting equipment. I saw that as an opportunity to become a bowler. It just happened that way, pushing me towards becoming a fast bowler.”
Talking about living away from home, Ngidi said, “It wasn’t just cricket at that time—I was also playing rugby. I hadn’t made up my mind on what I was going to do until high school and it was probably in grade 10 that I decided to pursue cricket. After all these years, cricket has afforded me the opportunity to bring my parents to Johannesburg for the first time, to stay in a hotel and watch me play Test cricket. Not many people get to do that and through cricket I have been able to improve my parents’ lives.”
Talking about bowling for the first time in Test cricket for South Africa, Ngidi said, “I was nervous on the first day, playing with and against the best players in the world. I couldn’t stop thinking that it was my debut. Perhaps it helped that this was my home ground, where I play for the Titans. But I was also pumped up because I knew we could win the series there. I guess that was natural.”
He also spoke about bowling to Virat Kohli, “Coming up against Virat Kohli, I knew everyone would be watching. A youngster bowling to probably the best batsman in the world, so I had to step up to the challenge. I felt that not many opportunities like this come by and I wanted to make the most of it. We had a good battle, I think.”
Talking about partnering with Kagiso Rabada, Ngidi said, “We do have an opportunity to be able to put up a deadly partnership like that. It is in our hands to carry on and bowl consistently. We are both 21 and 22 years old, so time is on our side.”
Talking about playing in the IPL for CSK, alongside MS Dhoni, Ngidi said, “I have been to India before with the South Africa Under-19 team, but the IPL feels like a bigger stage. I will be playing with Dhoni, which is a dream come true for any young cricketer.”
On been asked whether he was sure he would be picked up in IPL 2018 auction, Ngidi said,” No, I didn’t (laughs). I knew I had a good T20 domestic series and my first few international T20 games had gone well. I was obviously hoping to be picked up (in the players’ auction) and was nervous about it too. I didn’t watch because we were playing a Test match. After the game, I checked my phone and everybody was congratulating me. I asked “what for” and then I realized I had been picked up by CSK.”