India vs South Africa 2019, India vs South Africa, India, South Africa, Vernon Philander
The series opener will also mark the start of South Africa’s ICC World Test Championship campaign and Philander reckoned that it will be a tough hurdle to cross. © AFP

South Africa pacer Vernon Philander insists the seniors in his team should stand up and land the first punch at ‘big dogs’ India when the first of the three-match Test series gets underway on October 2.

The series opener will also mark the start of South Africa’s ICC World Test Championship campaign and Philander reckoned that it will be a tough hurdle to cross.

“It’s a tough start playing India in India but I don’t think the South Africans would have wanted it any other way than to 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.”

The series will also be the first for South Africa since the departure of veterans Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn, who retired recently.

“The 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.

“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.”

He hopes the seniors sets the right example for the youngsters. “We have lost some senior players and there are new players coming in and we want them to learn quickly. Hopefully we can use the experience of the senior players that are still around and mould 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,” said Philander, who had picked up 15 wickets during South Africa’s last Test series against India in 2018.

Philander, who made his Test debut in 2011, made a strong start to the series taking two wickets and scoring 48 runs during the drawn three-day warm-up game against Board President’s XI.

“It’s always good to have some time out in the middle. Fortunately for me, I came here a couple of days earlier to join the A side to get a bit of a game time,” said the 34-year-old.

“Mainly it’s just about getting a feel for the wickets. It is going to be a tough series, obviously, so the more time you spend out there in the middle, the better.”

Elaborating on the World Test championship, Philander said: “The Test Championship brings in a new dimension. It is a new sort of excitement for players. Also knowing that you will be playing against top teams more often is great.

“We are obviously prepared to do well. When we do well, it gives you that confidence and I’ll take that confidence with me. It’s been a long winter for me and I am feeling in really good nick.”