Exactly four winters ago, when India was on the verge of clinching a win on South African soil, it was Vernon Philander who made the difference.
The 32-year-old fast bowler picked up seven wickets in that Test in Johannesburg — 4/61 and 3/68 — and then, remained unbeaten on 25 to save the Test match, along with Dale Steyn.
Since his bowling partner’s heel injury ruled him out, Philander decided to take his share of wickets too. The right-arm pacer finished with his career-best figures of 6/42 in the second innings of the first Test match against India at Newlands, Cape Town on Monday. His spell helped the Proteas clinch the rubber by 72 runs to go 1-0 up in the series.
“The Newlands wicket is generally slow and moist. The way the boys stuck to the game, even with the bat, getting to 286 was a wonderful effort. You can’t ask for better crowd and better conditions. It was a great atmosphere,” he said.
“I felt a bit stiff after the break, so I asked for one extra over in that spell. Even Morne (Morkel) bowled well,” added Philander, who called Steyn a champion.
“Dale is a hell of a champion and a leader. It is heartbreaking to see him go down. Let’s hope he is back as quick as possible,” he added.