Delhi Capitals could be without one of their four retained players for a big chunk of IPL 2022 as Anrich Nortje continues to struggle with injury problems. It may just be left to fellow South African pace bowler Lungi Ngidi to step in and take his place.
Nortje’s Injury not Improving
The last time the South African pace bowler was in action was at the T20 World Cup, where he was part of the South Africa side who beat England, with Nortje claiming the prize wicket of Jos Buttler.
SA failed to make the semi-finals as we know but Norje had a good tournament, claiming nine wickets in five games and boasting a typically impressive economy rate.
But that was way back in early November and he hasn’t played a game since, missing the Test and ODI Series wins over India at the start of the year and the drawn Test Series in New Zealand that finished last week.
He currently has back and hip issues and though his general fitness is ok despite not playing in months, he’s struggling with the actual bowling side of things and there’s no time frame regarding when he might be ready to resume playing. CSA’s Chief Medical Officer Shuaib Manjra said:
“He is not ready for the Bangladesh series. We don’t know about the IPL. I guess it’s frustrating.
He keeps fit, he works extremely hard. All goes fine, except for when he picks up his bowling loads.”
Capitals Sweating on his Fitness
When the Capitals were considering which players to retain ahead of the Mega Auction, they opted for Nortje over fellow South African Kagiso Rabada, the more famous and high-profile of the two and the IPL’s top wicket-taker in 2020.
It was a decision that raised a few eyebrows but Nortje’s stats over the past two seasons were exceptional.
In 2020 he took 22 wickets in 16 matches as Delhi made and lost the final, though his economy rate was a tad high at 8.39.
In 2021 he played only eight matches but his numbers were excellent once again: 12 wickets and this time round at a brilliant economy rate of 6.16, over two runs an over better than in 2020.
It was perhaps this vastly improved economy rate (Rabada’s was 8.14) that convinced the Delhi management that Nortje was the one to keep.
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If Not Nortje, Then Who?
The most likely overseas players for Delhi would be T20 World Cup Player of the Tournament David Warner in the opener’s spot, all-rounder Mitch Marsh at three, Mustafizur Rahman as a strike bowler and Nortje as the leader of the attack, with Rovman Powell, Tim Seifert and Lungi Ngidi the unlucky ones to miss out.
But the likely absence of Nortje for some, or maybe all of the tournament, creates a problem.
The simple solution would be to replace him with Ngidi.
Like Nortje, he’s a big, strong, South African fast bowler. His strike rate in the IPL is excellent at 12.96 (almost two wickets a game) but his economy rate over the past two years has been over 10.0, which is a bit worrying.
And it’s that last metric which may make Delhi a bit cautious, considering it’s almost four runs an over higher than Nortje’s.
The other option is to play Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur as the main five bowlers and look to all-rounders Marsh and Powell to bowl when needed.
That would mean Ngidi missing out and a longer batting line-up with the explosive Powell in it.
Plenty for Delhi to think about.
The Capitals are 6.0 second-favourites with 10CRIC but one thing is for sure: they’re a better side with Nortje in it.