We Are Playing Against 11 and Not Just Kohli, Says Vernon Philander
Cape Town: The India-South Africa series has been billed as a clash of Virat Kohli against the South African seamers, but pacer Vernon Philander begs to differ and feels it is more about the 11 players in the team than individuals. Speaking to the media ahead of the first Test, Philander said that the team was looking at knocking India out twice and win the game and not focus on individuals.
"We are going to play bat and ball and not playing any names. We got to get Virat as to other nine Indian batsmen as well. I think we put our price obviously on bowling them out twice. They have played most of their games at home so it’ll be interesting to see how they go in South Africa. It’s a total different ball game. We’re going to have to wait and see once they pass the first Test match," he said.
While everyone is talking about the grass cover on the wicket, Philander says he has seen more grass before and the hype doesn't work for him as this has been his homeground.
"I wouldn't say it's greener. I have played all my life here. I've seen a lot of similar wickets and they haven't done much. Obviously there's a little bit of grass there but I don't think it's going to scare anyone.
"Look I think, there's a little bit of grass. THe day is obviously hot. Tomorrow is hot. I think by the time the Test match starts, it'll be little drier. The wicket changes quite quickly here. Depends on the type of wind that blows here as well. By friday morning, it'll be a total different looking wicket," he said.
"Look I think, there's obviously some grass on that wicket. Then we've got to put a combination that's going to take 20 wickets on there. How we are going to go about it, obviously we have to go and plan and work accordingly."
Asked if the team would go with a 3-seamer combination, Philander said: "I think, it's going to come down to the conditions at the end of the day. Obviously, with a little grass on the wicket, who knows on Friday morning if the overheads are playing in favour, then you might consider four seamers. But at the end of the day, our composition of 3 seamers and 1 spinner has worked very well in the last sort of 18-24 months. Look I think it's a good dilemma to have when you have all your fast bowlers fit and bowling well in all three formats.
"You obviously are going to know that you have your work cut out for you. If you’re going to go in with three seamers, it just means that you obviously have to bowl them out. You’ve got to go with that mindset of taking wickets. But it’s still two days out (to the Test) so we’ll see where the wicket is at on Friday morning," he said.
Australia were dismissed for 47 at the same ground, but Philander doesn't wish to draw comparisons here and wants to focus on the game in hand and also the hurt of losing to India in 2015 is still fresh in the South African unit's heart.
"I think that wicket was a little bit different to what this was, looking like. That one looked a lot more flatter than this one. But like I said, Sometimes you get to Newlands, there's a bit of grass on the wicket. Depends on the type of wind that blows here as well like I said. You might get days, there is grass but it's absolutely flat. You get some days, the North-Western blows and the ball goes around the park when there's not much grass on there.
"We’ve got to control what we can, and that’s to make sure we’re in a good space. Our batters are obviously in good nick. We play the ball and not the man. We’re going to respect the Indian seamers, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. Hopefully our batters can get the runs on the board.
"You are obviously playing at Newlands and you probably are going to nicked off more times then being bounced off. But look, there is a bit of grass on it and everybody is talking about having a bit of pace on it but at the end of the day, Newlands is going to be Newlands, you got to take 20 wickets and obviously score the runs," he said.
"Look I think if we want to play best cricket we have to go to do that in every series we participate in. 2015 was obviously disappointing one losing them (India). But look, at the end of the day we want to make sure we play our best cricket, and obviously being at home we want to make sure we deliver."
Keshav Maharaj has been the find for South Africa in recent times and Philander feels the spinner has an important role to play as well. "Keshav has got an amazing record and he’s gelling well with the three seamers that he has with him. He’s a world class bowler and he’s been bowling very well. He’s been bowling well these past 24 months, and I can’t see that changing anytime soon," he signed off.