Nortje slips and struggles before finding record-breaking groove

JOHANNESBURG: South African seamer Anrich Nortje slipped his way through his first overs and struggled to find his footing but ended with a career-high six-wicket haul to put his side well in charge after the first day of the second test against Sri Lanka.

"It was a bit windy and I was slipping around a bit. Initially I felt as if I was bowling like someone completely else," the 27-year-old said at The Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.

But there was no stopping him once he sorted out his problems, and his 6-56 in 14.3 overs helped skittle out Sri Lanka, who won the toss and elected to bat, for a paltry 157 before tea.

"I first just concentrated on finding a way to get the ball through to the wicketkeeper and found later on, it all began to fall in place for me," he said on Sunday after South Africa replied with 148-1, trailing by just nine runs at close of the opening day’s play.

Nortje dismissed Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne with a rising ball before fellow seamer Wiaan Mulder claimed three quick wickets to see Sri Lanka slump from 71-1 to 80-4.

That provided the platform for Nortje to then sweep through the rest of the batting card, with four of his wickets being catches behind by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

"I haven't had a lot of nicks recently, so it was good to find the edge of the bat again," he said.

"I just tried to hit the deck hard and later on there was some good shape."

Nortje, who took his only other five-wicket test haul at the same venue against England just under a year ago, said South Africa's bowlers had sought to do things simply in this match after struggling in the first innings of last week's first test in Pretoria.

"We were a bit wide at times in the opening test so this time we sought to ask the right questions, try to stick to a good line, and I think the guys did it all really well," Nortje added.