Vernon Philander stood up when it counted to secure his best Test figures and finally close down India.
Among the 6-42 he took in India’s second innings was the key wicket of their captain Virat Kohli, who fell lbw to a well-worked plan.
‘Virat is an aggressive player and the key thing is to keep him quiet and set him up for the other one … I always knew that I had that one coming back,’ Philander said.
‘It was about two and a half overs of away swing and then one back at him. It was definitely a plan to keep him quiet and to drag him across to make sure that when you do bowl the other one he’s on the wrong side of off stump.
‘From the get-go I knew that it was stone dead.’
Kohli had sent the decision upstairs for review, but to no avail.
Philander relished the prospect of bowling in the face of a daunting challenge.
‘When you look at the type of score you need to defend, someone has to make the play and you can’t wait for late in the game,’ he said. ‘Because there might not be a “late in the game”. I knew that I had to bowl overs up front to put us in a good position and I just wanted to contribute.’
So much so that he persuaded his captain to give him one more over: one that brought him three wickets and ended the game.
‘Faf was going to bowl Morne [Morkel], but I said, ”No, I’m warm now, just give me one more over”. And it paid off.’
One of those was Ravichandran Ashwin, who was proving troublesome and stubborn, playing very well and accumulating runs. But it was noticed he was pushing forward, and Du Plessis suggested Quinton de Kock stand up to the wicket. He took a brilliant catch to dismiss the last remaining threat, with 77 runs needed.
Philander has taken 47 wickets in eight Tests at Newlands with four five-wicket hauls. He has taken three or more wickets in 11 of the 16 innings he has bowled in at this venue. He has won three Man-of-the-Match awards at Newlands whereas he has only won one at all other venues in South Africa.
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