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South Africa's Philander continues route back from freak injury

South Africa's Vernon Philander looks at the ball at his over during the fifth day of their first test cricket match against Sri Lanka in Galle July 20, 2014. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/Files
South Africa's Vernon Philander looks at the ball at his over during the fifth day of their first test cricket match against Sri Lanka in Galle July 20, 2014. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/Files

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Fast bowler Vernon Philander will return to international action for the first time in eight months after a freak injury when he plays for South Africa A against Zimbabwe A in Harare in a four-day match starting on Saturday.

The 31-year-old has been sidelined since November after damaging ankle ligaments playing a warm-up game of soccer while on tour with South Africa in India.

The injury forced him to return home early and miss the subsequent series against England.

But Philander has since made three first-class appearances for Western Province and Cape Cobras at the end of last season, taking 10 wickets, and sees playing for South Africa 'A' as a route back to the test team for next month’s two-match series against New Zealand.

“I never quite knew the severity of the injury until a couple of months after and it’s been coming and going, but these last few weeks it’s really been holding up.

"I'm just looking forward to getting out there and playing cricket again,” Philander said in a Cricket South Africa statement on Friday.

The return of the right-arm seamer would be a boost to South Africa, whose pace attack also missed the injured Dale Steyn as they lost 2-1 to England in the four-test home series.

Philander, who has taken 126 wickets in 32 tests at an average of 22.08, is in the A team squad for two matches in Zimbabwe plus two in Australia at the end of the month.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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