Two good, two bad as Philander leads Proteas to victory over India in first Test

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Vernon Philander led South Africa to a victory at Newlands.

South Africa’s fast bowlers, led by Vernon Philander, blasted through India’s batting as the host nation gained a 72-run win on the fourth day of the first Test on Monday.

Set 208 to win the first of three matches between the world’s two leading Test teams, number one-ranked India were bowled out for 135 by their nearest challengers.

Here, we look at the good and bad performances of an action-packed Monday in which 18 wickets fell at Newlands.

THE GOOD

SHAMI FINDS HIS RHYTHM WHILE BUMRAH CONFIRMS HIS TEST CREDENTIALS

India’s senior-most pacer may have looked off colour in the first innings, but he came out all guns blazing on Monday and was on song from the first delivery of the day.

Mohammed Shami looked to be back at his best as he generated good rhythm and pace clocking over 140 km/h regularly.

The 27-year-old removed both of South Africa’s overnight batsmen in Hashim Amla and Kagiso Rabada to provide India with the early advantage before trapping Vernon Philander in front of the wicket to cap off a stunning display.

Jasprit Bumrah may have leaked runs in the first innings on his Test debut but he did show promise with some uncomfortable deliveries for the batsmen.

The 24-year-old showed his class in the five-day format with a hostile and fiery spell that broke down South Africa’s attack.

He accounted for three of the home side’s notable strong middle-order. He first sent back Faf du Plessis with a venomous delivery that gave the Proteas skipper no chance, before finding a faint inside off Quinton De Kock’s bat to remove the menacing wicket-keeper batsman.

He finished off South Africa’s resistance with the wicket of AB De Villiers to complete a remarkable opening session for India where they picked up eight wickets for 65 runs.

PHILANDER SHOWS WHY HE IS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS

After India’s pacers had run riot in the first session of the day, Philander demonstrated why there is no one better than him in such seaming conditions.

With the Proteas attack a bowler short in Dale Steyn, Philander made up for it in a masterful display of swing and seam at the Newlands.

With his ability to move the red-ball both ways, India’s batsmen were left second-guessing as the 32-year-old piled on one unplayable delivery after the other with breathtaking regularity.

He coxed Vijay into a forward defence to a delivery aimed at off-stump and the ball moved away at the last instance to take the opener’s outside edge.

Virat Kohli managed to get off to a confident start but his stay was short-lived after being trapped lbw to an in-swinging Philander delivery while trying to play across the line.

The seamer’s unpredictable movement then got the better of Rohit Sharma who could only play-on to his stumps.

He returned to pick up three wickets in a single over to claim his best-ever Test figures of 6-42.

Philander was literally unplayable on the Newlands pitch.

THE BAD

INDIA’S TOP THREE FAIL FOR THE SECOND TIME

While Cheteshwar Pujara had expressed confidence in India’s batting-card, the 208-run target was always going to be a mountain to climb for the visitors on a lively pitch.

India’s openers got positive starts but the pair fell in quick succession to give the Proteas the solid start they required in defence of a not-so-intimidating total.

After falling to an ill-conceived pull shot in the first innings, Shikhar Dhawan repeated his error as he seemed caught in two minds against a sharp Morne Morkel delivery.

Murali Vijay reviewed successfully twice in the opening half hour to earn a couple of reprieves but he would not be a third time lucky as Philander hit the sweet spot to take the right-hander’s outside edge.

With India reduced to 30-2, the pressure was on Pujara to provide some stability but the 29-year-old received an unplayable delivery from Morkel which kissed the outside edge of his bat to leave the visitors tottering.

Dhawan fell prey to the bouncer for the second time in the match.

INDIA’S MIDDLE-ORDER DOES NOT FARE ANY BETTER

While India’s top-order had failed spectacularly, their middle-order comprising captain Kohli fared no better as the visitors lost seven wickets before tea to all but end its hopes of a famous win.

Kohli seemed determined to set things right after his horrific dismissal in the first-innings as he ran hard between the wickets showing strong intent. He missed an in-swinger from Philander while playing across the line to fall lbw and his dismissal started a procession for India’s lower middle-order.

Sharma wafted weakly to a Philander delivery outside off and paid the price as he chopped onto his stumps. First-innings hero Hardik Pandya poked loosely to a Rabada delivery which straightened after pitching to compound India’s misery. It was all but over for the tourists when Wriddhiman Saha was trapped on the pads in the last delivery before tea to the excellent Philander.

Pandya was unable to repeat his first-innings exploits.

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Batting carnage as South Africa blast India aside to win first Test

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South Africa‘s fast bowlers, led by Vernon Philander, blasted through India‘s batting as the host nation gained a 72-run win on the fourth day of the first Test at Newlands on Monday.

Set 208 to win the first of three matches between the world’s two leading Test teams, number one-ranked India were bowled out for 135 by their nearest challengers.

Philander took six for 42 with Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada claiming two wickets each as India were subjected to a pace barrage in bowler-friendly conditions.

South Africa were reduced to three fast bowlers because of a heel injury suffered by Dale Steyn while bowling on Saturday.

Earlier, it had been the Indian bowlers who held sway when South Africa were bowled out for 130 in their second innings, losing their last eight wickets for 65 runs.

India’s run chase started promisingly with Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan putting on 30 for the first wicket, although Vijay was reprieved on review twice after being given out against Philander, for leg before wicket and a catch behind the wicket.

But then Dhawan was caught at gully off his bat handle when he got into a tangle against a lifting ball from Morkel. Six balls later it was third time lucky for Philander as Vijay edged a catch to AB de Villiers at third slip.

Philander claimed the key wicket of Indian captain Virat Kohli, who had looked confident in scoring 28 before he was trapped leg before wicket.

Philander struck again when Rohit Sharma was bowled off an inside edge and Rabada dismissed first innings top scorer Hardik Pandya for one, caught by a diving De Villiers at third slip.

Rabada trapped Wriddhiman Saha leg before with the last ball before tea to leave India in a desperate situation in a match which hastened to a conclusion despite the loss of the third day because of rain.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar put on 49 for the eighth wicket before Philander took the last three wickets in the space of four balls.

Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah were the main destroyers of the South African batting, taking three wickets each.

Shami started the collapse, dismissing Hashim Amla with the ninth ball of the morning and taking three wickets for 28 runs.

Bumrah took three for 39, including the wicket of South African captain Faf du Plessis, who fell to an unplayable delivery which lifted sharply off a good length and flicked a glove.

Despite being ruled out of the rest of the series, Steyn, who arrived at the ground on crutches, limped to the wicket as the last batsman in an effort to keep company with De Villiers, who top-scored with 35.

He managed to defend four balls from Kumar but De Villiers was caught off Bumrah in the next over by Kumar, one of eight fielders stationed on the boundary.

Wicketkeeper Saha set an Indian record by taking ten catches in the match, five in each innings.

After being under covers for two nights and a day, the pitch offered plenty of seam movement and occasional steep bounce.

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Five reasons why England lost the Ashes series

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Struggle for senior players: Alastair Cook and James Anderson.

England have a lot of soul-searching to do following the 4-0 Test series defeat against Australia Down Under.

Here, we look at five reasons why the tourists failed to perform yet again away from home.

SENIOR PLAYERS DIDN’T TURN UP

The onus was on Alastair Cook to score big at the top of the order but he endured a woeful five Tests, his epic Melbourne innings aside when the urn was already lost, and there are serious questions marks surrounding his future now. Meanwhile, all-rounder Moeen Ali averaged well over 100 with the ball and less than 20 with the bat in a nightmarish return which only heightened England’s need for a specialist spinner. Stuart Broad also struggled on slow Australian decks as did injury-prone Chris Woakes.

THE BATTING DEPARTMENT FAILED TO DELIVER

Apart from Dawid Malan – England’s highest run-scorer in the series – not many English batsmen will come away from the latest drubbing Down Under without black marks against their names. Skipper Joe Root played well, scoring five fifties, but his inability again to convert half-centuries to tons is an issue weighing down an England batting line-up which is all too reliant on the captain. The likes of James Vince, who continues to look like a walking wicket outside off-stump, and Mark Stoneman’s inability to change his technique against the Australian quicks only compounded the misery. Three English hundreds compared to Australia’s nine, tells much of the story.

ONE-PACED ATTACK LOOKED PRETTY ORDINARY

Even at the age of 35, James Anderson claimed 17 wickets and proved he is England’s best bowler, still – but he along with the rest of the attack suffered a tough series. Alongside Broad and Woakes, the tourists didn’t have that much-needed express pace in Aussie conditions and a bowler who could hit the deck above 90mph or more. Fast bowlers of that ilk don’t grow on trees and while youngsters Craig Overton and Tom Curran showed some promise, England’s lack of pace and variety has haunted them away from home for years now when the ball isn’t swinging and seaming.

PLANNING AND PREPARATION NOT UP TO SCRATCH

England’s pre-Ashes Tour matches against substandard opposition didn’t replicate the class they would face come the first Test in Brisbane. Tight schedules in modern-day cricket make it difficult to organise competitive practice matches of old but England looked under-cooked – and failure to win the key moments in each Test – cost them dearly. Since the 5-0 debacle of 2013-14, little seems to have been done to buck the trend and questions need to be asked as to why England entered this series with the same problems. Seven Test series defeats on the bounce away from home makes for dire reading.

COACHING MINDSET TOO ONE-DAY FOCUSED

Coach Trevor Bayliss has without doubt been one of the key men behind England’s revival in limited-overs cricket but that attack-minded and expansive philosophy has proved to been their undoing in Tests. While other nations may see T20s and ODIs as the most important formats, for England, it will forever be five-day contests. A return of 15 victories and 18 defeats from 38 matches under his stewardship is not a record to be proud of. England’s batters, frequently, got themselves out with unnecessary shots more akin to short-form cricket. For a while now, batting big and for long has been a problem.

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