Proteas take off with a win

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Anrich Nortjé picked up his career best figures of 7-4 in four overs as the Proteas won their opening game of the T20 World Cup. PHOTO: CRICINFO

The Proteas’ T20 Cricket World Cup got off to the perfect start against Sri Lanka, on an allegedly imperfect pitch in New York.

Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first, allowing the South African bowlers to show their prowess early on.

It did not take long for the former Knights bowler, Ottniel Baartman, to make his mark, taking the wicket of Sri Lankan opener, Pathum Nissanka, with his first delivery in World Cup cricket.

The rest of the first innings went the way of the Protea bowlers, as they restricted Sri Lanka to 77 all out, with Anrich Nortjé the pick of the bowlers, with a career-best 7-4 in his four overs. With a low score to reach for victory, South Africa’s batters were expected to make light work of their innings, but nonetheless had their struggles on the pitch.

After the match, the pitch at the $30 million Nassau County International Cricket Stadium was widely criticised as being ‘not good enough’ to host a T20 international, but Nortjé was of a different opinion.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the wickets,” the South African pace-bowler explained, “it’s nice for bowlers as well.”

He added: “It’s different to what guys have been used to for the last few months or years. There’s a little bit more in the wicket for the bowlers and I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

Speaking on the World Cup experience, Nortjé said: “It is great to be in New York, it’s great to be playing cricket in the US and we’re excited for what’s to come. It’s brilliant and we are enjoying it.”

Former Protea pacer, Morné Morkel, has high hopes for the South African side at the current World Cup, even though the side has had a torrid time at past tournaments. “From a South African point of view, we always went to World Cups with high hopes,” he said, “but it never materialised.”

Morkel went on to add: “I’ve got a feeling that this new Protea team look at the game differently, and play a different style. I’ve got high hopes for them this year, that they might go all the way.”

The Proteas’ next match takes place on Saturday, when they face the Netherlands in New York

Warren Hawkins

warren@mahareng.co.za