YES!: Anrich Nortje celebrates a wicket. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

The game of cricket can be really cruel at times and can take you from hero to zero in just a few balls.

Proteas rookie Anrich Nortje found that out during the six-wicket fourth ODI win over Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.

After claiming the wickets of Sri Lanka opener Avishka Fernando and Priyamal Perera with consecutive balls in the 11th over, he was on the verge of taking a hat-trick.

It wasn’t to be, but Nortje did get his third wicket of that spell when he had Kamindu Mendis caught behind to put Sri Lanka deep in the toilet at 71/6.

The visitors clawed their way back into the match and captain Faf du Plessis again handed the ball to his wicket-taker, Nortje, in the 36th over for his second spell.

FRONTING UP: Anrich Nortje faces the press. Photo: Supplied

He wasn't as lucky this time around and was smashed for three sixes in a row by Sri Lanka No.9 batsman Isuru Udana, going from hero to zero in just three balls.

Nortje says of his second spell: “I was a bit disappointed, the last two overs didn’t go according to plan.

“But it’s a nice learning curve and I should only take positives from this.

“I would have loved to finish the last two overs on a high note, but it’s just a learning curve - it could have happened at domestic level as well.”

He adds: “After the sixth over I was in a good space, very happy. It was such a great feeling to contribute - hopefully it just carries on from here.”

Nortje is seen as the next Dale Steyn in the Proteas side and will have another opportunity to impress the Proteas selectors in the fifth and final ODI at Newlands tomorrow at 1pm.

SUCCESSOR: Nortje seen as next Dale Steyn. Photo: Dean Lewins/EPA

With one eye on the World Cup later this year, Nortje says he can only give his best and hope it’s good enough to make the squad.

He explains: “I’m just taking it one game at a time, for me it’s just another great opportunity every time I play.

“It’s just to come out and give it my best shot every game - what the selectors think of the performance that’s up to them.

“For me it’s just about giving my best every time and running in with aggression.”

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