World Cup 2019 kicked off with the hosts defeating the South Africans by a 104-run margin at the Kennington Oval with collective team performance. One of the early talking points of the game was South Africa starting with Imran Tahir. The Saffers thus broke the tradition of beginning the World Cup by bowling with a pacer. All the previous 11 editions of the CWC witnessed the first over bowled by a fast bowler only.
This was also the first time Imran Tahir bowled the first over of an ODI inning. He bowled the 2nd over of an ODI game on two instances but never the first. However, this move helped the visitors strike early as Jonny Bairstow was caught behind on the 2nd ball of the over bowled by leg-spinner.
I might have been overthinking it
“We believed we could have kept them to under 300. Even when they got to 311, I thought they were below-par,” Ngidi said after the defeat.
Ngidi, who was hit for 27 runs in his first four overs, said initially he was bothered by the thought of preventing England from scoring 350. “I was very disappointed with my bowling performance upfront. I might have been overthinking it. All the talk was how they post totals of 350 so maybe that was at the back of my mind,” he said.
However, the 23-year-old soon found his bearings, adjusting his pace according to the wicket. “There were a few opportunities in the Powerplay, where they nicked it through the slips and I started to think, ‘These people are humans, just like me’. I kicked into my rhythm from there.”
“I listened to what the wicket was telling me. Slower balls were working so I stuck to that. Even though they were trying to come after me, they couldn’t seem to get it away,” Ngidi said.
Ngidi finished with figures of 3/66 and took the crucial wickets of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali. “I was happy to take three sticks but would have preferred two up front,” he said.
Despite restricting England to a gettable total, South Africa realised they had a mountain to climb after two early wickets. Veteran opener Hashim Amla retiring hut in just the second delivery after being hit on the head too made life difficult for South Africa.
“We realised it was not an easy wicket to bat on, having bowled all those slower balls at the back end. And they kept us on the back foot. They kept throwing punches at us,” Ngidi said. “Hashim retired early which was unfortunate for us. When he came back on, batting with the all-rounders and the tail, he was probably less effective than he would have been up front.”