Generally, it is considered that the balance between the bat and the ball is the defining feature of a good cricket field. But sometimes difficult conditions can be made to completely absorb cricket, as was the case when Zimbabwe made a fist in their defense of a miserable 117 in the opening ODI of their series against South Africa. Both teams were surprised by the bounce in the offer, and for the Lungi Ngidi Match Player playing bowling on a pitch with some poison was "very fun".
"The terrain was different," said Ngidi. "It was really fun to play bowling today, it was a bit irregular, but as we saw how Heinrich Klaasen batted, if it's a good ball, let it go and then take it off, it was a challenge for everyone. Driving was difficult, depending on the length. too full, it was very easy to hit him, but if you succeeded, it was very difficult to drive ".
Ngidi, who is South Africa's leading Wicket-taker in ODIs this year with 21 scalps, provided the first breakthrough in the morning when he had Solomon look caught in the slides by a three-ball duck, the first of five batters of Zimbabwe in falling behind the wicket. Looking to make the most of the pitch, Ngidi's sewing, court and rhythm variations brought him two more terrains, including that of top scorer, Elton Chigumbura, to put an end to Zimbabwe's chances. Ngidi turned the hat over to Dale Steyn, who did not play in the initial ODI but who is on the team and seems to be taking on the role of mentor provided by coach Ottis Gibson, for some useful advice on what variations to use.
"Dale is very useful," he said. "He's our most experienced bowler, and he also gave me some tips when we were there: maybe try some cross balls, maybe the slowest one." It really helps to have Dale in the system, and in the team. of ideas to bounce on him. "
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe was left wondering what could have been, had they been able to take out a few more races of their higher order. Captain Hamilton Masakadza estimated that 180 could have been a defensible score for his bowlers, and the average pace of Zimbabwe could be said to fit better conditions than South Africa's fastest options.
"We just did not put enough races on the board," said Masakadza. "The wicket played a little differently than we expected, but even after we adjusted we still did not hit for long enough, we needed at least another 50 or 60 to really make a game of that." Eighty to 200 would have been really competitive
"[The pitch] sometimes it was slow, and sometimes it bounced a bit more than expected. Many men were hit on the shoulder of the bat and on the gloves. But having said that, we should still have been able to adapt. As international cricketers, you come across things like that and you should be able to adjust and make use of the conditions you get.
"But the guys showed a bit of character trying to defend 118. We threw well from the beginning and guys really came out shooting."