England v South Africa, Champions Trophy, semi-final, The Oval June 18, 2013

De Villiers confident of Steyn's fitness for semi-final


South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn's participation in the Champions Trophy semi-final against England is in some doubt due to fitness concerns. The team management will take a late call on his inclusion on the morning of the match on Wednesday.

The fast bowler missed a day's training and did a lighter than usual load on subsequent days because of "stiffness in the groin area" according to team manager Mohammed Moosajee. However, South Africa captain, AB de Villiers, was confident of Steyn's inclusion in the playing XI on Wednesday.

"It looks like we've got a good chance [of playing him tomorrow]," de Villiers said. "He's taking another day off just to make sure we rest him really well. I said before that I don't believe we're lost without him. We can definitely beat England without him."

De Villiers conceded they are managing his workload as they have been playing a lot of cricket of late.

"He's got a few niggles around, which is very worrying, but we're going to do all we can to get him on the park tomorrow," he said. "He's close to 100%, he's running around. We didn't want to run him too much today because we knew he's one of the best in the world and he's got the skill to just rock up and do the business. He's working on his rehab making sure we give him the best chance to play tomorrow."

De Villiers discounted the fact that Steyn's absence would be a big psychological factor and said the team has enough to do well without him, which they have in the past.

"I don't think it's got anything to do with mental games, anything like that," he said. "He's good against any team in any format. We're still a very good ODI unit. We've won games without him and with him. It's a big knock-out game, and there will be a lot of pressure around, a lot of hype. Not having him on the side will be big for us, but then again, like I said, we're playing good cricket."

In case Steyn is declared unfit on Wednesday morning, South Africa will have the option of bringing in an extra batsman and play with a seven-four combination for the first time in this Champions Trophy, or give another chance to left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso. They may also consider playing four seamers with one spinner.

If Steyn is unavailable and South Africa still want to field four seamers, Rory Kleinveldt will be recalled to the starting XI. The other option would be to include Aaron Phangiso to give South Africa an additional tweaker or to bring in an extra batsman in Farhaan Behardien.

Steyn was said to be struggling a little after their last league game against West Indies on Friday. Moosajee also confirmed that the new concern for Steyn's fitness is not related to the side strain which kept him out of the first two matches against India and Pakistan.

Steyn bowled six overs in a rain-affected match and finished with 2 for 33 from six overs in a tied game which secured South Africa's place in the semi-final from Group B along with India. He has been under the careful watch of physiotherapist Brandon Jackson as South Africa hope to do all they can to ensure he plays.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Pardeep on June 19, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    @Amol_Ind_"SA Steyn's average is not great in ODIs because most batsmen fear him and prefer to PLAY OUT his overs DEFENSIVELY rather than try to score and get out" this is not true ... steyn's economy rate is almost 5 and it was over five a few matches ago.

  • Vishal on June 19, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    Not very sure if AB is correct. Steyn not palying will definitely boost England and given that Morkel is also not playing .... certainly England's chances will be more.

  • Dummy4 on June 19, 2013, 6:17 GMT

    Proudly South African - go Proteas!

  • Amol on June 19, 2013, 1:46 GMT

    Steyn's average is not great in ODIs because most batsmen fear him and prefer to PLAY OUT his overs DEFENSIVELY rather than try to score and get out. In TESTS, they have no choice but to face him because, in tests, Steyn comes to them relentlessly, ball after ball.

  • Shanmugam on June 18, 2013, 23:25 GMT

    @sandy_bangalore, really? in our last 10 completed head-to-head matches, England have won 7 to SA's 3. We both lost our home series to NZ. We won our last away series against SA and drew at home. We also won our WC encounter. So, please explain how and why SA are better than England in ODIs?

  • Shanmugam on June 18, 2013, 23:21 GMT

    @Satish Reddy Allam, you are absolutely correct if you are talking only about tests. In ODIs, Anderson and Steyn's #s are remarkably similar although Anderson has played more than double the games as Steyn and taken more than double the wickets. Their average, ER, SR, and wickets/match are all almost the same. I am not sure how you could claim Steyn is superior to Anderson in ODIs based on these numbers. Dale Steyn in ODIs is not the same terror as Dale Steyn in tests.

  • Shanmugam on June 18, 2013, 23:17 GMT

    @cric_J, cheers mate. I support England but if it is not going to be England, then I would be glad if India win the CT. I have a feeling that they are going to win. Hopefully, they have not peaked too early.

    Looking forward to tomorrow's game. Promises to be an exciting contest. May the best team win.

  • Shanmugam on June 18, 2013, 23:09 GMT

    tbh, I am not too worried about Steyn playing against us. He hasn't been very successful against us in the past and he is not as threatening with the white ball as he is with the red cherry. Of course, he is a class bowler but I don't fear him in ODIs as much as I do in tests. More worried about ABDV and, above all, Amla. He was the thorn in our side last year (both tests and ODIs) and loves the Oval. I am happy that Finn will be playing ahead of Bresnan in this key game. He will be the key against Amla. If we can tame Amla, then that is half the battle won.

  • Karun on June 18, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    I am not entirely convinced by dale steyn in odi cricket, whilst he can be economical he is not a world class wicket taking bowler in odis such as glenn mcgrath for example. His average around 30 is not as impressive as mcgraths 22. As a result it will not be disastarous if he doesn't play.

  • Luke on June 18, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    @alarky "Which should be scrapped, The ICC or The Champions Trophy" The CT obviously but what should also be scrapped is the format of the World Cup, get it done in 3 weeks not 3 months, it is *far* to bloated and *far* too long. Have the top 8 teams automatically qualifying and the the remaining 2 or 4 teams come in from in to a pre-qualifying tournament just like the football world cup, then it would be a something to admire rather than something you are thoroughly sick of by the time there are any meaningful matches.