Cricket World Cup 2019: I listened to what the wicket was telling me – Lungi Ngidi
Lungi Ngidi (AFP Photo)

Handed a massive defeat in their World Cup opener, South African pacer Lungi Ngidi said the team was satisfied with their bowling effort as they managed to restrict England to what he feels was a “below-par” total.

South Africa were thrashed by 104 runs by hosts England in the opening match of the ICC World Cup, which began at The Oval on Thursday. Opting to field first, the South African bowlers did well to restrict the powerful English batting line-up to 311 for eight but were later shot out for 207.

“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.”

Putting the loss behind, South Africa still have their eyes firmly set on the semi-final spot. They will take on Bangladesh in their next game here on Sunday. “Every game is important. Everyone had hyped up their first game to the point where you started feeling as if it was the final already but we didn’t let that get to us. We know what we need to do in order to get to the semi-finals,” Ngidi said.