Champions Trophy 2013 June 9, 2013

Injured Steyn likely to miss Pakistan game

AB de Villiers has admitted that Dale Steyn is unlikely to be available for South Africa's vital Champions Trophy clash against Pakistan at Edgbaston on Monday.

Steyn sustained a side strain during the warm-up game against Pakistan on June 3. With Morne Morkel ruled out of the tournament with a quad strain, and Jacques Kallis missing the event for personal reasons, it has left South Africa lacking experienced bowlers for what will almost certainly prove a must-win game.

"It's not looking good," de Villers said. "The chances are that Steyn will only be ready for the last group game. We're still hanging on to that last little bit of hope that he could wake up in the morning and do a bit of a fitness test and look good for the game, but it's not looking good at all."

With the pitch for the game expected to be dry and abrasive, there may be a temptation for South Africa to field both specialist spinners in their squad. But de Villiers hinted that they will retain the same balance of the side that lost to India, with Chris Morris likely to make his ODI debut in place of Morkel, and the likes of JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis providing spin support to Robin Peterson as required.

"Chris is doing well," de Villiers said. "He looks really fresh. He has impressed us all at the IPL. In the last year, he's been amazing. He's full of confidence and a guy that we really enjoy having around. You know, we were unlucky to have Morne and Dale injured, but to have a guy like Chris replace them is really pleasing.

"Watching the game between Australia and England, which looks like a similar wicket that we're playing on, the one spinner from England, James Tredwell, bowled really well. But I thought it was the seamers that really started reversing the ball there towards the end. There was a bit of swing and that really restricted the batsmen and made them look like they can't get it off the square.

"So it's a tough one. Playing two spinners is not a bad option. But looking at the spinners in our squad - Aaron Phangiso and Peterson - they're very similar kind of bowlers. They are both left-arm, so it doesn't give us a lot of variation. We've got either JP Duminy and one of either Phangiso or Peterson, which should be good enough variation."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo