Pite frustrates the Cobras
Vernon quickest to 100 wickets
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.”