CAPE TOWN – Someone has to make the play when you’re defending a target of 208, says Vernon Philander, and he proved to be that guy for the Proteas at Newlands on Monday.
It was the moment that probably turned the first Test in the Proteas’ favour – Philander trapping Virat Kohli lbw.
The South African master bowler that is Philander revealed his cunning plan to dismiss Indian batting master Kohli after South Africa wrapped up a thrilling 72-run victory on Monday afternoon.
And the only way Philander was going to get his man was through his metronomic accuracy. India were recovering from a shaky 39/3, with Kohli and Rohit Sharma sharing a partnership of 32 to bring them back on track.
But Philander produced a spell-binding passage of bowling, sending down continuous away-swingers to the Indian captain before he got one to dart back off the seam.
Kohli was so stunned by being out for 28 that he asked for a review, in which he only saw red and had to head back to the pavilion.
Philander didn’t end there, claiming a sensational 6/42 – his 12th five-wicket haul in Test cricket – and 9/75 in the match to leave Indian coach Ravi Shastri and his team stunned after they did so well to bowl out the Proteas for just 130 earlier in the day.
“It was probably two-and-a-half overs of away-swingers and then the one back at him (Kohli). It was definitely a plan to keep him quiet, and also to drag him across to make sure that when you do bowl the other one, he is on the other side of the off-stump,” Philander said after the game.
“Virat is a quality player, and the key thing is to keep him quiet, and make sure that we set him up with the other one. I always knew I had the one coming back!”
Philander stated that he didn’t mouth anything towards Kohli in his celebration afterwards. “Nah, I never said anything to him. It was just obviously on the spur of the moment – I just tried to spur my boys on, and that’s what we tend to focus on. “We knew that Virat was a big wicket to get, and getting him right there and then, I just strived to (enjoy it with) my boys.”
The 32-year-old seamer from Ravensmead was also delighted with Quinton de Kock’s catch while standing up to the stumps to get rid of the dangerous Ravichandran Ashwin, who brought India back into the chase with a fighting 37 off 53 balls (5x4).
Philander credited his skipper with the tactic – “I will give that one to Faffie!” – but the real hero was the man himself, especially with Dale Steyn injured.
“When you look at the type of score that you have to defend, 208, someone has to make the play. You can’t wait for later in the game – because there might not be a ‘later on in the game’,” Philander said. “I knew that I had to bowl overs upfront and put us in a good position, and I just wanted to bowl and make a difference.”