South Africa fast bowler Anrich Nortje had gone unsold in the auctions for the 2020 edition of the Indian T20 League, but that didn't stop him from flying out to the UAE to play in the cash-rich tournament. Chris Woakes, Delhi's big-budget recruit from the auctions, had to pull out of the tournament due to personal reasons and that was when the franchise roped in Nortje as his replacement.
This was going to be the South African's first rodeo in the Indian T20 League. He had been a promising performer for South Africa at the international level ever since he made his debut last year, but handling the pressure of a tournament like this has always panned out to be a difficult challenge even for the best in the business. However, as things stand for Delhi four matches later in the season, Nortje has delivered the goods like a champion bowler.
It's not easy to carve out your own identity as a pacer when there is already a world-class bowler like Kagiso Rabada in the same team. He played a major role in taking Delhi to the playoffs last season as he claimed a total of 25 wickets in just 12 matches. And he has started off this edition on a bright note as well, having registered nine wickets in just four matches.
Nortje, on the other hand, has played an equal number of matches as his South Africa teammate but picked up four less wickets than him. However, his impact on the team's overall performance can't be measured from his tally of wickets alone.
It can be said that the 26-year-old has had the same impact on the team as Rabada, albeit in a different role.
|PP Overs (1-6)||Middle Overs (7-16)||Death Overs (17-20)|
Table: Performance across different phases of Indian T20 League 2020 for Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje
While Delhi have used both bowlers across each phase of the innings, Rabada has been used mainly as a middle-overs enforcer and death bowler. He has bowled 12 out of his 16 overs so far in the middle and death overs combined.
Nortje, on the other hand, has been used more as a powerplay weapon. He has bowled fifty percent of his total overs so far in the powerplay and the other fifty percent of his overs are spread equally across the middle and death overs.
And, as the table above reveals, he has done an equally commendable job as Rabada. He has not only maintained a mean economy rate of 6.25 in the Powerplay but has also picked up two wickets in that phase.
He has been slightly more expensive than Rabada in the middle-overs but has been equally effective in terms of taking wickets. Both of them have the same strike-rate in the middle-overs.
As far as their death overs numbers go, he hasn't been as effective a wicket-taker as Rabada but he has contained batsmen better than him. And when it mattered the most in the game against Kolkata at Sharjah, he delivered by picking up the wicket of a dangerous-looking Eoin Morgan in the death overs.
Nortje emerged as the best bowler for Delhi in a match that saw bowlers getting carted to all parts of the ground. While Rabada got smashed for 51 runs in his four overs, Nortje conceded just 33 runs in his full quota of overs and picked up three wickets as well.
This performance proved that he isn't just a supporting cast to Rabada in the Delhi setup anymore. Nortje, in fact, is a match-winner on his own.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter.com / Delhi