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Senior players should throw first punch at India: Vernon Philander ahead of Visakhapatnam Test

“It’s a tough start playing India in India but I don’t think the South Africans would have wanted it any other way take the big dogs in their home ground,” said Philander.

SNS | New Delhi |

South Africa fast bowler Vernon Philander, who made his Test debut in 2011, wants the team’s senior players to take responsibility and throw the “first punch” at the hosts India in the upcoming three-match Test series starting 2 October in Visakhapatnam.

The opening Test against India will mark the start of South Africa’s ICC World Test Championship (2019-21) campaign, whereas it will be the second series for table toppers India. In their first series, they thrashed the West Indies 2-0 in their own backyard. Hence, it is definitely going to be a tough challenge for the Proteas to face India in their home ground.

“It’s a tough start playing India in India but I don’t think the South Africans would have wanted it any other way take the big dogs in their home ground,” he was quoted as saying by the ICC.

“All of us are looking forward to this challenge and there are a lot of player-to-player challenges as well,” he added.

It is to note that the upcoming Test series will be the first for South Africa since the retirements of experienced players such as Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn.

“Spotlight will be on a lot of big players to make a statement. Our job is to come here and give the first punch as India is obviously expected to do well,” said Philander after the conclusion of the final day of the practice game.

“We are known as a team who starts slow so this time around we have to start well. There is a lot of pressure on players (but then) it’s international cricket and you want to keep it that way.”

Philander, who had picked up 15 wickets during South Africa’s last Test series against India in 2018, wants the senior players to leave behind a legacy for the youngsters.

“We have lost some senior players and there are new players coming in and we want them to learn quickly,” he said, adding, “Hopefully we can use the experience of the senior players that are still around and mold this into a good Test side for the years to come. That’s the most important part, to lay a good foundation for players to take forward.”

Taking about Philander’s performance, he took two wickets and scored 48 runs during the drawn three-day warm-up match between Board President’s XI and South Africa at Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh.

(With inputs from PTI)