Cricket-Olivier admits struggling on test return but still snags three wickets

·2-min read
Second Test - South Africa v India

By Mark Gleeson

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Fast bowler Duanne Olivier returned to the test arena with an impressive three-wicket haul on Monday as he helped South Africa to bowl out India for 202 but admitted he initially struggled to find his rhythm.

Olivier took 3-64 to help restrict India after they had won the toss and chosen to bat on the opening day of the second test at the Wanderers.

Olivier took two wickets in two balls before lunch to provide South Africa with a sudden breakthrough and then added another wicket after tea as he played his first test in almost three years.

It took him past the 50-test wicket mark in a reminder of the explosive qualities he briefly displayed in South African colours between 2017 and 2019.

“To be honest, it felt like a debut and I was very nervous today,” he told a virtual news conference after the close of play on Monday.

“For me it's just trying to have good energies on the ball and to put the team in the best position.”

But he said he had battled to find his line and length as well as pace, with much expected of a player known to his team mates an ‘the enforcer’.

The 29-year-old last played for South Africa almost three years ago before suddenly curtailing his test career by taking up a contract at Yorkshire as a Kolpak signee.

Kolpak rules stated that the players belonging to the countries that had deals with the EU could participate in any cricket tournament in an EU country without being considered an overseas player.

However, those who had signed Kolpak deals were no longer eligible to represent their own country in the international circuit.

Olivier, who had exploded onto the test scene with 48 wickets in 10 tests at an average below 20, had framed his test cap following his move to Yorkshire -- thinking his days as an international were over.

But when the England and Wales Cricket Board cancelled all Kolpak deals from last January due to Brexit, Olivier returned home to win back his place in the test side.

He was handed a fresh cap on Monday as he was picked for the second test in place of Wiaan Mulder, and did not take long to again make an impression, even if he was not entirely satisfied with the day’s work.

“I had certain patches that were good and certain that weren’t that good but there is the second innings still to come and it is there that I will look to do things better,” Olivier said.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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