Young pacer Lungi Ngidi claimed a six-wicket haul as South Africa defeated India by 135 runs in the second Test at the SuperSport Park, Centurion, to win the three-match Test series 2-0 on Wednesday. Ngidi was delighted to win the man-of-the-match award on his debut and that too in front of his home crowd.
"The moment hasn't really sunk in. I am very chuffed with my performance and I'm very happy at the moment. Been a quick turnaround for me. I was in good nick in franchise cricket," he said at the post-match presentation.
"I came out here to try pretty much what I could do. The support was great at my home ground. It's a great moment," Ngidi said.
The South African skipper also heaped praise on debutant fast bowler, who returned with figures of 6/39 to dismantle India in the second innings.
"It was special performance by Ngidi. He's a great guy and we welcome him into the team. I look at the person's personality and he's a wonderful human being," du Plessis said.
Later in the press conference, Ngidi said that trapping Virat Kohli, one of the world's best batsmen, lbw in India's second innings of the second Test was a special moment. The Test debutant went on to take 6-39 on day five as India crashed to 151 all out and lost the series 2-0.
"The moment for me I think was the captain's wicket. That was a very special moment and I felt that I had worked hard and sort of figured out a gameplan of bowling towards him. So finally getting that really did mean a lot to me," Ngidi said after winning the Man-of-the-Match award for taking 7 wickets for 90 runs in this second Test.
Playing on his home ground, where he represents the Titans, Ngidi was cheered by the crowd throughout this game, in particular when he dismissed Kohli. He was also given a standing ovation after he tore through India's line-up on day five.
"To be honest, it's actually difficult to describe. It's not something I'm used to, so every time it really does hit me. You get goosebumps and get nervous all over again. It really is an honour to have people appreciate the work that you're doing out there, so it's hard to describe but it really is a blessing," he said.
Kagiso Rabada, the world's no.1 Test bowler, also took 3 -47 as the young pace-duo plotted India's downfall. "I do remember that moment and it did strike me when I was thrown the ball and he was bowling at the other end.
During the game I couldn't say anything, I had to internalise it, but it really was a dream come true to bowl with him. It has been a dream of mine. "He actually has a lot of knowledge for a youngster as well. He is no.1 in the world and it shows. We had been chatting throughout the innings and he had been giving me idea, and to see them work is special as well," said Ngidi.
The youngster became the seventh Proteas pacer to achieve a five-wicket haul after Lance Klusener (8/62 vs India in 1996), Charles Langeveldt (5/46 vs England in 2005), Vernon Philander (5/15 vs Australia in 2011), Merchant de Lange (7/81 vs Sri Lanka in 2011) and Kyle Abbott (7/29 vs Pakistan in 2013).
"I'd love this to be a long career. I know many people talk about how injuries have affected me in the past, but I feel like this is a new start. In the past, I didn't know what I was doing, to be honest.
"Now I've sort of found my feet and I know which path I'm going down as a cricketer. I'd also like it to be one of the long careers and maybe go down on the honours board," Ngidi said.
"I actually watched a lot of Andre Nel and was convinced that I had the same bowling action as him, but I realise now that isnt true. Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn, those were my idols that I looked up to," he signed off.
(With PTI inputs)