Paceman Vernon Philander became the fastest South African to take 100 test wickets on Friday but India can claim the ascendancy on the third day of the first test at the Wanderers.
Philander reached his milestone with one of the only two Indian wickets to fall in the day. The only contemporary cricketer who has achieved this landmark faster than Philander was India’s Ravichandran Ashwin, who reached the landmark in his 18th Test, last month in Mumbai.
The paceman claimed his 100th victim in his 19th Test when Shikhar Dhawan (15, India’s opener) steered the ball to Jacques Kallis at second slip, who took his 199th catch in Test cricket.
Philander is the joint-sixth quickest to the milestone in test cricket and got to his century one match faster than South Africa’s previous record-holder, Dale Steyn.
Morkel not to return
Meanwhile, Philander’s pace bowling partner, Morne Morkel, won’t be able to bowl for the remainder of the first test against India after spraining his right ankle while fielding on Friday.
Morkel’s unavailability from halfway through the third day reduced South Africa’s attack to just two front-line seamers and seriously harmed the home team’s diminishing chances of saving the series-opener. India was building a formidable lead on the third afternoon as South Africa’s attack struggled badly in Morkel’s absence.
Morkel would definitely not bowl again in the test at the Wanderers, South Africa manager Mohammed Moosajee said, and would only bat if “absolutely necessary.” The tall quick is also in doubt for the second test in Durban, which starts on Dec. 26.
“Clinical examination and a subsequent MRI scan confirmed a grade one ankle sprain,’’ Moosajee said. “The recovery period is usually 7-10 days.’’
Morkel tumbled awkwardly on the ankle while running near full speed in the outfield to cut off the ball near square leg just before the lunch break. He was helped off by teammates after being treated on the grass by the South African physio and didn’t come out again, instead going to the hospital for the scan. The lanky fast bowler was menacing for his 3-34 in India’s first innings and without him Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander were overworked in the second innings.