Vernon Philander rocked India in the 1st Test    AFP
Vernon Philander rocked India in the 1st Test AFP

In pursuit of 208, India had luck in their favour with Dale Steyn ruled out. Nonetheless, South Africa‘s Vernon Philander posed serious threat with his pace and movement to beat India by 72 runs in the first of the three-Test series. Philander’s career-best 6 for 42 proved decisive in handing his side a 1-0 lead in the series. The pacer revealed how he set Virat Kohli up (trapped lbw for 28) and credited skipper Faf du Plessis for Ravichandran Ashwin’s wicket, the final nail in the coffin.

Philander revealed, “Virat (Kohli) is a good player and an aggressive player. The key thing is to obviously keep him quiet and to make sure you set him up for the other one. Initially it was for me to keep him quiet upfront, and I always knew I had the one coming back.”

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.

I was not worried about his DRS review. I knew it was stone dead,” said the Man of the Match.

Philander added, “We knew Virat was a big wicket to get, and getting him there and then I was just trying to motivate my boys. 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’. 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.”

At 82 for 7, India were down and out but a handy 49-run stand between Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar triggered a mini-comeback. With India 131 for 7, the target was brought down to 77. Ashwin played the outswingers very well and looked at ease. Skipper du Plessis brought the wicketkeeper up, and it paid dividends instantly. Philander took the wicket but credited the skipper for his ploy.

“You have to be open to those suggestions, but I’ll have to give this one to ‘Faffie’ (du Plessis). Ashwin, at the time, was batting quite far out of his crease, and the wicket was a touch on the slow side and the ball was a bit older. I also felt that by pushing him back we could get all three dismissals into play.” told Philander.

Faf was opting for Morne Morkel, but Philander’s decision sealed the Test for South Africa.

“Coming out after Tea I was a bit on the stiff side and I had to bowl two or three overs to get myself going. Just before that last over I bowled, ‘Faffie’ was going to bowl Morne, and I said to him, ‘Listen, I’m actually warm now, so just give me one more’. Luckily it paid off,” concluded Philander.

The second Test will begin from January 13 at Centurion.