• Philander eager to ‘give first punch’

    All-rounder Vernon Philander welcomed solid preparation ahead of next week’s first Test, after the Proteas’ three-day fixture against the Indian Board President’s XI ended in a draw on Saturday.

    Opener Aiden Markram’s century, Test vice-captain Temba Bavuma’s 87 not out and spinner Keshav Maharaj’s three wickets highlighted the tourists’ performance in a rain-affected match that spanned a mere 128 overs.

    Philander, meanwhile, struck a lower-order cameo of 48 – and collected figures of 2/27 in nine overs. His brace included the dismissal of the talented Rohit Sharma for a duck. Sharma has been name in India’s squad for October’s three Tests against the Proteas – and has been tipped to open the batting.

    ‘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. Mainly it’s just about getting a feel for the wickets,’ said Philander.

    ‘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.

    ‘All of us are looking forward to this challenge and there are a lot of player-to-player challenges as well. I can’t wait to get going.’

    The Proteas are without veteran batsman Hashim Amla and fast bowler Dale Steyn. Amla retired from all international cricket earlier this year, while Steyn’s Test career has ended. He will, however, remain available for ODI and T20I selection. South Africa’s squad is dotted with three players uncapped at Test level – spinner Senuran Muthusamy, fast bowler Anrich Nortje and batsman Heinrich Klaasen.

    ‘The spotlight will be on a lot of big players to make a statement. We have lost some senior players and there are new players coming in and we want them to learn quickly,’ added Philander.

    ‘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.

    ‘Our job is to come here and give the first punch, but in saying that, India is obviously expected to do well, so first I think we really want to start well. e Ware known as a team who starts slowly and this time around we have to start well.’

    Photo: Gallo Images

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