Former Proteas all-rounder Vernon Philander said there was plenty to be excited about as a South African fan following their impressive victory over India in the second Test match.
South Africa beat India by seven wickets late on day four at Imperial Wanderers in Johannesburg on Thursday to ensure the series was level at 1-1 – and set up a decider for the final Test in Cape Town.
The hosts had lost the opening match by 113 runs at SuperSport Park in Centurion, but put that defeat behind them with a wonderful win at the Bullring, their first over India at the venue in five attempts.
Chasing 240 for victory, captain Dean Elgar lead the way with an unbeaten 96, with meaningful contributions all round.
“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,” said Philander in a CSA’s statement.
“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,” he added.
Amongst the most impressive elements for Philander were the batting intent by the Proteas in their fourth-innings chase. They were positive from the start and caught India out in many respects.
“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,” Philander said.
“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.
“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,” he added.
The series now moves to Cape Town for the decisive Test that starts next Tuesday.
“I don’t think there’s much between the two teams going into Cape Town. Thelast Test would have given South Africa a massive boost on all fronts,” said Philander.
“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,” he signed off.
The third Test takes place from January 11 – 15 at Six Gun Grill Newlands.