Du Plessis: ‘Vernon Philander picks himself at Newlands’

Faf du Plessis has confirmed the inclusion of Vernon Philander -who has recovered from a broken thumb that kept him out of the first Test - in the line-up for Newlands on 3 January.

Faf du Plessis after South Africa's victory over Pakistan at Centurion on 28 December 2018. Picture: Twitter/@OfficialCSA

CENTURION - South Africa’s cricket captain Faf du Plessis made no secret about the selection of veteran fast bowler Vernon Philander in the second Test match against Pakistan at Newlands in Cape Town in the new year.

The Proteas completed an emphatic six-wicket win over Pakistan in the first Test match at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday afternoon, inside two and a half days.

Batting struggles continued during the match, and it was the bowling performance led by Duanne Olivier - who took career-best match figures of 11/96 - that sealed the comprehensive win for South Africa.

Despite that man of the match winning performance from Olivier, du Plessis was quick to confirm the inclusion of Philander who has recovered from a broken thumb that kept him out of the first Test in the line-up for Newlands on 3 January.

“Vernon picks himself at Newlands and his record speaks for itself so he will definitely be back in the side for that Test match.

“The headache then will be who we leave out and I will be honest, it will be difficult to leave out a guy who took 11 wickets in the match. We will see what the conditions are like in Cape Town when we get there, but Vernon will be back in the side for that Test match.”

The record the captain alludes to is a rather impressive one. Philander has taken 47 wickets at an average of 16.34 and striking at 33.9 deliveries per wicket at the snake pit in his 8 Test matches.

Leaving out the spin of Keshav Maharaj may be flirted with in the selection discussions in the coming week, but history has suggested that if the match gets to the fourth and fifth day, the Newlands pitch does take some considerable turn, which will make dropping Maharaj a difficult choice.

The other positive of Philander being back in the matchday XI for Newlands is that it will bolster the South African batting lineup that has struggled to patch together big totals in recent times.

The second Test match against will get underway on 3 January.