Pite frus­trates the Co­bras

Ver­non quick­est to 100 wick­ets

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - KEVIN MCCAL­LUM

THE groan that greeted Imran Tahir’s dropped catch off Chetesh­war Pu­jara was per­haps only just louder than the con­fused cheer at the Wan­der­ers when AB de Vil­liers was asked to bowl the fi­nal over be­fore tea yes­ter­day.

It was, laughed Ver­non Phi­lan­der, “won­der­ful for the game”.

It was less won­der­ful and more in des­per­ate need as South Africa toiled in the field on the third day of the first Test. De Vil­liers, who has Testbest bowl­ing fig­ures of 2/49, gave his pads to Hashim Amla and con­ceded five runs from seven balls.

Tahir, who had bowled just one over by then, may have thought he was on a hiding to noth­ing af­ter Graeme Smith sought to shore up his bowl­ing at­tack, which had lost Morne Morkel, the man who looked most ca­pa­ble of do­ing dam­age yes­ter­day.

Morkel rolled his an­kle and suf­fered a grade one strain, rul­ing him out of the Test.

Phi­lan­der, who has been suf­fer­ing from painful toothache, said “los­ing Morne is the worst pain at the mo­ment” when asked about the predica­ment South Africa were in with In­dia cur­rently 320 ahead.

“They played very well. The guys are quite down, los­ing Morne was a big blow for our bowl­ing unit. In­dia left very well when they came in.

“I’m lucky I’m not in Graeme’s shoes at the mo­ment. Jakes, Dale and I knew when Morne went down we’d have to work more. As far as Immy is con­cerned, they tar­geted him.”

But there was also the small mat­ter of Phi­lan­der be­com­ing the fastest South African to 100 Test wick­ets, which got a lit­tle lost in the in­jury to Morkel and the man­ner in which Pu­jara and Vi­rat Kohli dom­i­nated. He also scored a fine 59 in rear-guard ac­tion with Faf du Plessis, who might get a bowl him­self to­day, de­pend­ing on how things go. It was Phi­lan­der’s third Test half cen­tury.

“It was a great feel­ing. I’ve been re­minded of how short I was of 100 wick­ets since Dubai. Let’s hope I can grab a few more sticks for South Africa. (With re­gards to his bat­ting) I spend a lot of time in the nets away from the na­tional side. I take great pride in it. I en­joy those mo­ments when the pres­sure is on, and I play for the team.”

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