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It is going to be a tough series, says Philander ahead of India Tests
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It is going to be a tough series, says Philander ahead of India Tests

Vernon Philander believes the forthcoming three-match Test series against India will be a huge challenge but focused on the importance of spending extended periods of time in the midst of the cricket action.

"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."

Philander, who displayed fine performances in South Africa's last Test series against India, contributed with a brisk 48 and returned impressive figures of 2-27 in the warm-up game ahead of the series opener in Visakhapatnam.

The tourists drew the practice match against Board President's XI on Saturday where Philander accounted for the prized scalp of Rohit Sharma.

"It’s always good to have some time out in the middle," he said after the game.

"Fortunately for me, I came here a couple of days earlier to join the A side… to get a bit of a game time.

"We are obviously prepared to do well. When we do well, it gives you that better 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."

The T20I series between the two sides preceding the Tests was drawn 1-1 after the first game was abandoned due to persistent rain.

'We will look to use the experience of the senior players'

Over the summer, South Africa lost stalwarts Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn marking the Proteas' first Test series without their presence in the line-up.

Philander, who has been a consistent member of the Test unit since his debut in 2011, hopes to fill in the vacuum and said the remaining senior players in the team including himself and captain Faf du Plessis will need to elevate their standards.

Also Read: Dale Steyn retires from Test cricket with immediate effect

"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 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."

He admitted there was pressure on the players to gain the advantage early in the series and the backdrop of the World Test Championship could galvanize the players into bringing their 'A game' to the fore.

"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.

"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.

"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]," he said.