Phenomenal Philander bowls SA to epic win

Vernon Philander of South Africa and team mates celebrate the wicket of Virat Kohli (capt) of India during day 4 of the 1st Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and India at PPC Newlands on January 08, 2018 in Cape Town.
Vernon Philander of South Africa and team mates celebrate the wicket of Virat Kohli (capt) of India during day 4 of the 1st Sunfoil Test match between South Africa and India at PPC Newlands on January 08, 2018 in Cape Town.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

Led by Vernon Philander’s brilliance‚ South Africa’s pace attack ripped through India’s batting line-up to clinch a stunning victory in the first test at Newlands on Monday.

Despite the removal of Dale Steyn from the equation by injury‚ South Africa defended a target of 209 to win by 72 runs with more than a day to spare.

And that after the entire third day was lost to rain.

India were under no pressure to score quickly when their second innings started immediately after lunch.

But tigerish bowling by Philander‚ who claimed a career-best 6/42 — three of them in what became the last over of the match — kept the balance tilted in the home side’s favour.

Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada also threatened consistently on a pitch that offered seamers assistance throughout‚ and together they sent India packing for 135 just more than an hour after tea.

Only four times have teams successfully chased targets of more than 200 in tests at Newlands‚ all of them in the past 11 years.

But the Indians never threatened seriously to add their names to that honour role.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar ground out a partnership of 49 in 56 minutes and off 79 deliveries for the seventh wicket‚ India’s biggest stand of the innings‚ but by then the sting had all but been drawn from the contest.

South Africa resumed their second innings on 65/2‚ and lost eight wickets for 65 runs in the 21.2 overs bowled in the morning session to be dismissed for 130.

The fall of the ninth wicket brought Steyn to the wicket 10 minutes before the scheduled lunch interval‚ and with him came rousing cheers for his commitment.

Steyn sustained a heel injury while bowling on Saturday by stepping awkwardly into a foothole and has been ruled out of the rest of the series and for up to the next six weeks.

He faced four balls before AB de Villiers holed out on the long-on boundary for 35 — South Africa’s top score — to end the innings and force the interval.

South Africa’s slide started with the ninth ball of the day‚ a wide delivery from Mohammed Shami that Hashim Amla chased and edged to gully‚ where Rohit Sharma scooped a low catch.

Amla went for four‚ and besides De Villiers only Keshav Maharaj‚ who made 15‚ reached double figures.

South Africa struggled against an India pace attack that‚ given helpful conditions‚ exploited them well.

Debutant Jasprit Bumrah and Shami finished the innings with three wickets each‚ and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya took two apiece.

Murali Vijay was twice given out to Philander in the first six overs of India’s chase‚ and both times he was reprieved by the decision review system.

Six balls after Vijay survived a second time Morkel had Shikhar Dhawan caught in the gully with a vicious delivery that reared up and looped off the splice.

Philander got his man six deliveries after that when Vijay tried to defend and instead steered a catch to third slip. Morkel had Cheteshwar Pujara caught behind with a sniping away swinger to reduce India to 39/3.

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma held up South Africa’s progress for 56 balls in their stand of 32 — which was ended when Philander trapped Kohli in front for 28.

Sharma should have been out when he top-edged Rabada to backward square leg‚ but Keshav Maharaj appeared to lose the ball in the sun and the chance was wasted.

The error cost South Africa little‚ with Sharma dragging Philander onto his leg stump five balls later.

Pandya hammered 93 with gusto in the first innings‚ but on Monday he was gone for a single when he edged Rabada to gully.

Rabada struck again with what became the last ball before tea‚ removing Wriddhiman Saha leg-before.

Ashwin and Kumar stood firm until the 14th over after tea‚ when Quinton de Kock‚ standing up to Philander‚ held Ashwin’s slashing edge to remove him for India’s best effort: 37.

Two deliveries later edged to second slip‚ as did Bumrah with the next ball — which Faf du Plessis dived forward to catch.