Vernon Philander starred with the ball as South Africa beat India by 72 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match Test series at Cape Town. Philander, who ended the match with nine wickets, registered his career-best Test bowling figures. Hosts, after being bowled out for 130 in the second innings at lunch on Day 4, bowled brilliantly that helped them to come back in the Test match. Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay took India off to a decent start but were put on the back foot, courtesy some great seam bowling from the Proteas.
The hosts picked up wickets at regular intervals that never really allowed the Indians to get off the hook. However, the visitors looked threatening as Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar stitched together a 49-run eighth-wicket partnership and brought India closer to the total before Philander struck once again and broke the partnership by dismissing Ashwin. Following which, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah were dismissed in quick succession. Ashwin top-scored for India as the visitors were bowled out for 135 in their second innings.
South Africa were on course of what seemed a rather straightforward victory. Then the winds of change blew. Newlands received sweet summer rain. On a spruced-up day four wicket, India's fast bowlers charged in and blew away South Africa's second innings, giving their batsmen 208 to claim a victory. Unfortunately for India, Philander produced an outstanding piece of seam bowling - his career-best figures of 6 for 42 - giving South Africa a 72-run win and the 1-0 series lead. Only the formalities were left for the final session. All the drama was played out before that. It began in the morning with Virat Kohli asking his bowlers not to offer any batsman a semblance of comfort. As Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah set about responding to their captain's call, the wickets began tumbling in a heap.
Four fell in the first hour for the addition of 27 runs. The other four fell in the next with only AB de Villiers resisting. When he was dismissed for the innings top score of 35, South Africa were bowled out for 130. That gave India renewed hope as the target of 208 would be tough but not impossible. And as Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan pushed that score to 30 after the first half-an-hour post lunch, they were perhaps favourites. Vijay was reprieved twice. Then the wickets did and in keeping with the rest of the Test match, they were hard to stop. When Morkel returned for another spell, he reduced India to 39 for 3, getting Pujara nicking off to a length delivery that bounced more than usual.
India's hopes rested on Kohli. He began by flicking to cover for boundaries. Kohli, circumspect about the away seamer, was done in by a full and straighter delivery. He reviewed, of course, but the three reds on the screen all but rubber-stamped India's fate. Rohit was then lulled into a false sense of belief that he could pull Rabada on this wicket. His top-edge however was grassed by Keshav Maharaj, who failed to get a hand on it. The reprieve only gave Rohit a break of five interim deliveries. First-innings hero Hardik Pandya and Wriddhiman Saha fell to leave India 82 for 7 at Tea and a further 126 runs from the title.
The break was just right for Philander to help him push for his fiver. His scalps in the final session included R Ashwin. Shami and Bumrah then fell off successive deliveries as others around them burst into euphoric celebrations.
Brief scores: South Africa 286 (AB de Villiers 65, Faf du Plessis 62; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-87) & 130 (AB de Villiers 35*; Mohammed Shami 3-28, Jasprit Bumrah 3-39) beat India 209 (Hardik Pandya 93; Vernon Philander 3-33, Kagiso Rabada 3-34) & 135 (Ravichandran Ashwin 37; Vernon Philander 6-42) by 72 runs