Former South Africa all-rounder Vernon Philander showered praise on captain Dean Elgar, saying the way he led with the bat was ‘phenomenal’. He added that South Africa’s intent and urge to attack more in the second innings surprised India’s bowling attack.
Chasing 240 on a rain-hit day four, Elgar carried his bat through and remained rock-solid to be unbeaten at 96 and help South Africa win the second Test at the Wanderers by seven wickets.
“It was probably the best batting performance I’ve seen from the Proteas in a while. The guys were really clinical, and I think the way Dean lead with the bat was phenomenal. Also the mindset made a huge difference. I think in the first innings the boys were a bit tentative, maybe a bit on the defensive side of things,” Philander was quoted as saying by Cricket South Africa (CSA).
“But if you look at the second innings we saw some clear intent, the guys were looking to score quicker and you could see the difference it made in demeanour, in body language and the sort of surprise it gave the India bowlers, who wouldn’t have expected the South Africans to come out and attack as they did. It makes a massive difference when you just come out and just allow the bowler to bowl at you compared to showing positive intent like they did. The way they batted was proper,” added Philander, who played 64 Tests for South Africa.
Philander pointed out that South Africa’s bowling attack had set up the win when they had lost the toss but bowled out India for 202 in the first innings on day one. “We’ve always been known to be slow starters, but the way the boys bounced back after losing the toss as well was excellent. There was a lot of expectations on the bowlers to bowl India out and they did that. I thought they bowled phenomenally well in partnerships.”
The 36-year-old mentioned South Africa could have dismissed India for a cheaper score than 266 in the second innings if they had bowled better.
“They probably started a little bit slow in the second innings and may have been disappointed with the areas they hit. They could have been trying too hard and in the process afforded India more opportunities than they would have expected.
“There was something in the wicket as we saw and had they been more patient, they could have probably bowled India out even cheaper, but giving yourself something around the 200 mark, we would have always taken that in the last innings.”
With the series now at 1-1, the third and final Test at Cape Town, starting from January 11, is a winner-takes-it all affair. Philander concluded by hoping for it to be a cracker of a match.
“I don’t think there’s much between the two teams going into Cape Town. The last Test would have given South Africa a massive boost on all fronts. Very often that is all that you need, one win as a team to give you that confidence and momentum.
“They will feel they now have that behind them and they can go on to win the series. Coming to Newlands, one of our favourite hunting grounds, I’m really looking forward to the final Test. It’s going to be a cracker.”