India vs South Africa 1st Test: Lungi Ngidi says, ‘game on if SA can restrict India under 350’

India’s strong opening day show may have put South Africa on the backfoot in the first Test in Centuion but the home side pacer Lungi Ngidi on Sunday (December 26) said they still can turn the match around if they can bowl the tourists out under 350. Vice-captain KL Rahul slammed an unbeaten 122, while his opening partner Mayank Agarwal struck a resolute 123-ball 60 as India rode on the duo’s century-plus opening stand to end day one on 272/3.

“It’s Test cricket, you win sessions, you lose sessions. All in all, it’s been a good day of cricket. There’s still a lot on that wicket. Things can happen quickly,” the 25-year-old said at the press conference after the day’s proceedings.

Ngidi’s 41st over double strike in successive balls pulled things back a bit for South Africa. “If you get two wickets in two balls, that means anything can happen. And if we can get a couple of breakthroughs early in the morning that could turn the game on its head. Still the balls catching the edge, going towards the slips… It would be great if we can keep them under 340-350.”

Ngidi was the only wicket-taker for South Africa on the day, returning with 3/45 in 17 overs and also became the only bowler to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara on golden duck twice in Tests. As the rest of the Proteas attack lacked control, Ngidi was also struggling but change of ends did the trick for him.

“I asked at lunch if I could switch ends, but obviously, everyone prefers their certain end so I had to wait my turn. I was just struggling from the other side a little bit and finding the right areas, but once I came this side I felt comfortable and all of a sudden, things started happening for me,” he said.

He said the home side bowlers were a little disappointed with the wicket as it lacked seam. “The wicket did less than we thought it was going to do. And they (Indians) had good disciplines, they left well. I expected a bit more swing and when that didn’t happen, you obviously got to change your plans and trying to get the ball to move off the deck and that was happening on both ends. The gameplan was to try and attack the stumps, and the pads.”

(with PTI inputs)

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