Philander five-for seals series win
Vernon Philander claimed a magnificent five for 30 to help South Africa seal a 51-run victory and wrap up a 2-0 series triumph over England late on the final day of the third test at Lord’s in London on Monday.
It was Philander’s seventh career five wicket haul in just his 10th test and helped dismiss the hosts for 294 as they chased down an unlikely 345 that looked dangerously gettable for the tourists when Matt Prior was going.
The England wicketkeeper ended as top scorer with 73 off 130 deliveries and was given good support by the lower order after Jonathan Trott made 63 off 159.
Jonny Bairstow (54 off 47), Stuart Broad (37 off 42) and Graeme Swann (41 off 34) all played their role to ensure the game went down to the wire, but the new ball, as had been throughout the match, again proved crucial.
And when it was thrown to Philander, he once again enhanced his growing stature in the game by taking out Prior and bowling the Proteas to victory, one that sees them become the number one ranked test team in the world.
The final day drama had begun with England resuming in a precarious position on 16 for two.
That quickly became four down for just 45 after Philander struck early to remove Ian Bell (four), caught by Graeme Smith at first slip after a slight fumble, while Trott and James Taylor (four) were involved in a horrible run out.
Trott seemed to call and then send his partner back looking for a fourth run, with Amla, Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers combining to send Taylor on his way.
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Bairstow then counter-attacked superbly. He crashed Steyn for four boundaries in eight balls, before Trott, who went to his 12th career 50 in 136 balls, then enjoyed some luck after Jacques Rudolph appeared to mis-time a catch attempt from third slip of Jacques Kallis.
Their 50 partnership came up from 52 deliveries moments later, followed by the 100 with England getting to lunch on 120 for four.
Bairstow’s stay, though, was ended straight after lunch.
He had just reached his second half-century of the game, when a low delivery from Imran Tahir castled his off stump, the wicket ending an 89-run partnership with Trott.
Nine overs later, Steyn accounted for Trott, who edged a steepling delivery and was taken by an outstanding diving catch to his left by Kallis at slip.
Broad and Prior attacked superbly thereafter and put on 50 in just 74 balls, with England surpassing 200 in the 66th over.
However, with tea looming, Broad tried to pull Kallis and succeeded only in hooking towards fine leg where Hashim Amla held on to a good catch.
That made it three wickets in the session, but England were still in the contest on 221 for seven.
There was further frustration for the tourists after tea when Swann kept up the attack with Prior, who went to his own 50 in 104 balls during a Tahir over that went for 15, including a straight six.
The two batsmen had brought the runs required down to 63 with plenty of time to go, but disaster struck when Swann was run out by a JP Duminy-Tahir combination attempting a quick single to point.
The pendulum looked like it had swung again when Morne Morkel dismissed Prior from a no ball and the English wicketkeeper survived a close-shave stumping.
But the new ball immediately paid dividends as Prior and Steven Finn (nought) fell from successive Philander deliveries, both caught in the slips, to start the celebrations after the Proteas had moved to the top of the world.
"That was a bit closer than we were hoping, Prior and (Graeme) Swann played some incredible shots after tea so we had to hang in there, as we knew the new ball was around the corner," said South Africa captain Smith.
"Vernon Philander was outstanding with bat and ball."
England captain Andrew Strauss added: "We're all bitterly disappointed.
"It was an outstanding test match but South Africa played the better cricket and they've deserved it, although losing our number one ranking is a bitter pill to swallow."
Meanwhile a delighted Philander added: "I just tried to stay calm and contribute to the team and it paid off. We knew that if we got the ball up in the right areas it would get a nick."
Report Day 1
Report Day 2
Report Day 3
Report Day 4
ENGLAND – Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, James Taylor, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wk), Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steven Finn.
SOUTH AFRICA – Graeme Smith (capt), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wk), Jacques Rudolph, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.