You’ll have to search the record books for a while to find a bowler who made more of an impact in his first seven games of the IPL than did Lungi Ngidi.
IPL has many facets. While Ngidi is ranked 23rd in wickets taken (11 from seven innings), his value lies in the fact that he has the second-best bowling figures of 4-10, the second-best economy rate of six an over and the third-best average (14.18). Even more remarkable, in the powerplay, he had the best economy rate of 2.82.
And he was in his debut season; coming in with a basement price of around R950 000. Now he is an IPL champion.
The Titans’ quick had played just three T20 internationals before he was snapped up in the IPL auction. Crucially, those T20s were against India, where he came under the scrutiny of MS Dohni, captain of the Chennai Super Kings.
‘Right from the South Africa tour I was impressed by Ngidi,’ said Dhoni. ‘If he keeps coming good, it will be good for us.’ Boy, did he come good.
And yet it could so easily have slipped from Ngidi. He spent the first week warming the bench and then was called back to South Africa after the tragic death of his father.
On his return, he was hustled into the starting line-up due to a hamstring injury to Deepak Chahar.
He made an immediate impression. The return was 4-0-26-1, from the really tough overs: two in the Powerplay and two in the death. He hit a hard length, neither driveable nor pullable, with the new ball. Only once, in the second game, did the batsmen dominate him: he conceded 12 an over for three overs as the Kolkata Knight Riders cruised home.
But never again. His value is on the rise.