South Africa still in with a shot in 1st Test: Vernon Philander
Visakhapatnam, Oct 5: South African pacer Vernon Philander said that the visitors remain in contention in their first Test against India. The Proteas ended the penultimate day of the first Test on Saturday on 11/1 and are chasing a target of 395 in the match that is being held at Visakhapatnam's ACA-VDCA Stadium.
"I still think we are in with a shot," Philander told reporters after the end of the day's play. "They played really well, myself, KG (Rabada) all started well. Taking 70 runs lead we would have taken it as they scored 500 runs. Hopefully we come ready tomorrow, bat well and take it real close."
India were buoyed by Rohit Sharma's second century of the match and a fifty from Cheteshwar Pujara as they went about building a lead of nearly 400 runs on Day 4. However, South Africa had to bat only nine overs instead of the scheduled 13 before stumps were declared. Philander however said that it is difficult to say now as to whether it was the right decision from India to declare.
"Depends on how you look at it. There is a bit there for the spinners but in saying that we batted 130 overs in the first innings. So they had to make sure of that they get enough runs on board first of all," Philander said.
He warned that the South African batsmen are in good form. Quinton de Kock and Dean Elgar had both scored centuries in South Africa's first innings. While Elgar has been the only wicket to fall in the second innings thus far, Philander expects the others to step up on Day 5. "No game is a safe game. It's a good wicket, the batters are in good form and hopefully we can get a good start tomorrow and set up for later on in the day," he said.
Philander said that South Africa are looking to make the most of the influx of fresh ideas in the team. The Proteas are in a state of transition with senior players like AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn all retiring over the past year and a half. "When you have young and fresh ideas, the guys tend to play the way they play and you get a different perspective of where the game is moving to. You got obviously some of the older guys," he said.
"Quinny (de Kock) is obviously not so old but he is one of us now. So I think it just brings fresh energy, new energy and the guys are really enjoying it. I think a couple of years back, we were a very conservative team. These guys are playing a lot more exciting brand of cricket."