Fast-bowler Anrich Nortje says it was important for the Proteas bowling unit to be on the money from the start in the second Test against Sri Lanka.
Nortje led from the front in Johannesburg on Sunday, claiming career-best figures of 6-54 as Sri Lanka was dismissed for only 157.
The visitors piled on the runs in the first innings of the opening encounter in Centurion, however, where the same Proteas bowlers were quite loose at the start.
In general the bowling quicks were a lot more disciplined with their line and lengths this time round in comparison with SuperSport Park.
‘Great way to kick off the year like we did. After Centurion, especially the first innings, we want to improve as a bowling unit and we did a good job today. We started off nicely as well with Lungi [Ngidi] bowling two or three maidens, which helped to build the pressure like that and the batsmen batted really well,’ Nortje told members of the media after the first day’s play.
Wiaan Mulder knocked over three batsmen shortly before lunch before Nortje wrapped up the tail after the break.
Nortje managed to hit the right lines at a consistent level that proved too difficult for the Sri Lankan lower order to cope with.
‘I like to keep things as simple as possible, especially on a wicket like this where there’s a little bit of extra bounce at times. They guys stuck to what we wanted and it worked out for us.
‘At Centurion we were maybe too wide at times. Coming into this game we wanted to keep it tight and just sort of get into the channel. At the end of the day that also created some opportunities. That is what we want, having some bowling partnerships and as a bowling unit to get as much dot balls as possible,’ he added.
Dean Elgar (92) and Rassie van der Dussen (40) made a sound start to the Proteas’ first innings, seeing out the day on 148-1.
A 114-run partnership between the two has given the Proteas batsmen another excellent platform to post a big score.
After a solid batting display in the first Test, Nortje says the team is focussed on remaining patient in their approach to put Sri Lanka under even more pressure in the days to come.
‘For us it is important to bring that run rate down, to bowl the dot balls and that generally creates wickets. We know we’ve got a lot of time, we know we are not in a rush and the boys batted really well. They realised there is no need to try and hit one or two that were outside off. They assessed the conditions and situation really well.’