Centurion: Keeping it simple in seamer-friendly conditions again paid dividends for South Africa's Vernon Philander, who continued his impressive impact in Tests with another five-wicket haul on Thursday.
The 26-year-old rocked Sri Lanka with figures of five for 53 on the opening day of the first Test - his third five-wicket haul in his first three Tests. Philander took 14 wickets in two Tests in his debut series against Australia last month and produced another impressive display as Sri Lanka were skittled for just 180 at Centurion.
"I just try to keep it as simple as possible. There was a bit of assistance there today and I tried to exploit it," Philander told a news conference. "For me, I just tried to bowl as if it was a flat pitch. Sometimes you get on a greentop and you think you should bowl bouncer, bouncer, yorker and then bowl the middle stump out. But the assistance is there, why try to bowl any differently?"
Philander is not new to South Africa's national team, having played seven ODIs and seven Pro20 matches between 2007 and 2008, but he was considered ill-equipped mentally and physically for the rigours of international cricket and dropped.
Since then, Philander has taken 151 first-class wickets at an average of just 17.80 to suggest his omission was ill-judged. He is also a hard-hitting lower-order batsman, who has scored two first-class centuries and averages 27.13 with the bat.
South Africa trail Sri Lanka by just 90 runs after reaching 90 for the loss of just captain Graeme Smith at the close, but Philander believes the hosts still have work to do in order to take charge of the game.
"Tomorrow morning there'll still be something in the pitch and a lot depends on the overhead conditions. Obviously we hope the sun is out so it flattens the pitch. We still need to bat well and get through that initial patch," he said.