South Africa news October 21, 2013

Injury prevents Steyn from training


South Africa may be without the world's No.1 batsman and bowler for their must-win second Test against Pakistan. Dale Steyn had to cut short his training session on Sunday after feeling tightness in his right hamstring and did not train on Monday, while Hashim Amla, who is awaiting the birth of his second child, will be ruled out of the match if he is unable to leave Durban by tomorrow at around mid-day.

Steyn was attended to by the South African physiotherapist on Monday morning but the full extend of his injury will only be known in a day's time. "We should have a better idea of the situation tomorrow," Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa's team manager who is also a medical doctor, told ESPNcricinfo. "We need a 24-hour period before we can determine exactly what's wrong." South Africa's vice-captain AB de Villiers said Steyn was excluded from training as a precaution and they are hopeful he will be passed fit to play.

Steyn has suffered from a variety of niggles in the last five months which led to him being left out of the limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka in August. He only played in only one of South Africa's four Champions Trophy matches and was struggling with a left groin problem before being given an extended period of rest to recover from what he revealed as "five injuries, including side-strain, groin, glute, neck and a bit of an ankle problem."

He had returned to full fitness ahead of the Champions League T20 and declared himself ready for the South African summer. The latest setback comes after a Test in which he bowled the most overs among South Africa's seamers - 33.4 in total - although he showed no signs of discomfort while on the field. All of South Africa's players were carefully managed in the heat, with Steyn one of the bowlers using ice-vests and umbrellas during drinks breaks.

If he is unable to play, South Africa could bring in reserve seamer Rory Kleinveldt, who has previously stood in when Vernon Philander was injured. This may also inadvertently help solve their conundrum of which seamer to leave out to make room for an additional spinner. South Africa played the first Test in Abu Dhabi with Robin Peterson as their specialist tweaker and JP Duminy playing a part-time role.

Speculation is rife that Imran Tahir will be brought into the XI to add an attacking option although South Africa continue to play down talk of his inclusion.

De Villiers said Peterson, "bowled really well to me in the nets today," and he expects the spinner to replicate that in the second Test.

"I know Robbie has got full support of the boys and the management. He has done really well with bat in hand and with the ball there were a few deliveries that missed the edge when they could have hit it. I think he will get it right in the next Test." De Villiers did not rule Tahir out completely, but admitted his lack of first-class cricket - the legspinner has not played in whites since February - is a worry. "He has the potential to bowl a side out but I also don't know about his confidence at the moment because he hasn't played in a while. It's still something to think about."

South Africa's other possible change to the XI will be enforced if Amla cannot make it back to the UAE in time to play. As of Monday morning, his wife Sumayya had not given birth. Moosajee however said the team will wait as late as they can before they take a call on Amla. "He won't need any time to adjust so as long as he can be on the plane by tomorrow afternoon, he should be fine to play," he said.

If Amla cannot make it, Dean Elgar will most likely replace him. Elgar was benched in favour of Duminy and last played during the home series against Pakistan. Although he has not been entirely convincing in his first few Tests - with a century against New Zealand and not much else to his name - Elgar is actually a top-order batsmen and de Villiers hopes he will perform better in the place he is more accustomed to batting in.

"It's a big test for Dean. He hasn't played a Test match for a while but looking at his record in domestic cricket, he has been playing really good cricket," de Villiers said. "He has got a great attitude when it comes to playing cricket as well and that's exactly what we need."

South Africa's have described the Dubai Test as being all about mental strength and theirs will be challenged severely if they are without both their No.1s. Bowling coach Allan Donald is also not with the group, having returned home for family reasons. Despite all that, de Villiers remained upbeat.

"We are still the No.1 team in the world and we are going to try play like it."

Pakistan are not taking South Africa's troubles as a sign of good fortune for themselves because they expect the replacement players to be just as good. "They will miss them because Amla and Steyn are their top players. But they will come hard at us," Younis Khan said. "In their culture, it doesn't matter who is playing for them. It only matters how they play. They will have some plans against us."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on October 22, 2013, 14:01 GMT

    Well said mazhar. And for the reply over Pak lost against zim, so bro everyday is not a sunday... It happens in cricket, especially to Pak team, remember 99 world cup? Pak won all pool the pool matches except against bangladesh... But on the other hand Pak has the potential to beat any team in any format of the game.

  • Wiqar on October 22, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster you must be the whisperer of cricketing world. To say that test match is boring is like committing a cricketing sin.... Only if you could understand the intricate things of the game.... day 1 pitch, day 3 pitch and day 5 pitch and... I'm sure you can not differentiate seam from swing... What's the matter with you, every time I see you talking against test cricket. You have to be smart to be a test cricket fan..... and no one watches the entire match for God sake not even t20 id you thing test is time consuming... do yourself a favor and buy a cricket video game..... you can even fast forward it. Anyone can play t20 and a player's worth is tested in tests..dont you get it???

  • Yasir on October 22, 2013, 11:22 GMT

    @gsingh7:" in present series pak denied sa bowlers a chance to show their balling skills by denying bouncy and pacier tracks"

    Yeah..As if the whole world prepare pitches specially for the visitors lol.It's not just Pakistan.All do the same thing.The difference is that Pak prepares tracks for themselves & they win unlike other 'WORLD CHAMPIONS' who gets thrashed outside their home in test matches & then gets thrashed again even at home :P Btw i wonder how was SA restricted under 250 runs..A team having batsmen almost all with 50+ avg's..Still they could not go past 250 on a 'LIFELESS & FLAT' Track..I wonder how it happened :P

    PS:Now awating some comments on how Pak lost to Zimbabwe..Shoot :P

  • mazhar on October 22, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    pakistan win agianst world odi champion in thear home country india. beat t20 champion in westindies so keep in mind that pakistan have the abaility to beat any team no matter they re no 1.......

  • Dummy4 on October 22, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    I have a strong feeling that this tour and the next one with sri lanka had been scheduled specifically at this time to make Pakistan climb to one of the top 4 positions in test ranking. We know that beating Pakistan at UAE is extremely difficult, if not impossible. ICC want only those teams in the Test Championship who are most like to perform well on Asian pitches.

  • gurinder on October 22, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    @ v n harish-- bro u missing the point. test cricket is dying breed and one day we will hear about test cricket in past tense in a few years time. in present series pak denied sa bowlers a chance to show their balling skills by denying bouncy and pacier tracks. even something resembling grass cud not be seen on pitches. sa bowlers will be to their best self in sa on homemade pitches with grass and bounce. even sa batsmen were below pakistan batsman outside sa. this tells u how far the difference is their when sa play in sa and when they play on flat lifeless tracks of sub continent or uae.

  • Abdurrazaaq on October 22, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    Protea bowlers were unable to adjust to the conditions and also lack of a front line spinner made their bowling mediocre. However Pakistan's seamers as well as spinners utilized the conditions well, and their young batsmen showed great composure and put the Proteas out of the competition. Hats off to Pakistan as they hold all the aces coming into the second and final test.

  • ESPN on October 22, 2013, 7:31 GMT

    It is also worth mentioning that SA can be beaten by other teams. People don't appreciate the performance of a weak team, but say how badly the stronger team has performed. Pakistan is not a weak team. Over the years it has shown that Pakistan has the capability to beat the best, and that is exactly what we've done. Accept South Africas defeat!

  • sandip on October 22, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    Missing Gary badly. Looks like great downfall like Oz - West Indians. Domingo; not sure about him. PAK takes 2 nothing. Inevitable.

  • Dummy4 on October 22, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    SA will lose this series due to arrogance and lack of preparation. Pakistan has been hopelessly underestimated and SA bowlers unable to adapt. The greatest disaster has been the failure of Kallis and Smith as well as several other "top" order batsmen. Pakistan deserve to win as they are the better side. This is a poorly planned tour and SA deserve to be embarrassed. The best that SA can hope for is a draw, a win would depend on a Pakistan failure which I do not expect as their team has gained a great deal of confidence. Shame on you South Africa - you better wake up quickly or even India will embarrass you, to say nothing of Australia.