South Africa v England, 1st Test, Durban, 3rd day December 28, 2015

South Africa could gamble on Steyn after 'inconclusive' scan

Dale Steyn twice left the field in the middle of an over © Getty Images

South Africa are hopeful of Dale Steyn's chances of bowling in the Kingsmead Test and the rest of the England series after an "inconclusive" scan revealed no tear to the muscles or ligaments around his right shoulder.

Steyn first experienced discomfort on the first day of the match, left the field after bowling 3.2 overs in the second innings but was not taken for a scan immediately. Instead, with a view to not being penalised for being off the field if he could bowl, Steyn stayed on the park and then delivered three more balls only to leave left again in the 21st over.

At that point, he was taken for the scan but on his return, he was back on the field again. He threw underarm and with his left arm for the rest of the day. He will test his ability to bowl in the warm-ups on the fourth morning before a firm decision is made over any further participation in this match.

"Dale first experienced discomfort in his right shoulder after day one, which was probably because of a long lay off and great deal of bowling load on the first day," Mohammad Moosajee, South Africa's team manager said. "He woke up sore on the second day but got through first innings but then in second innings, the pain increasingly troublesome so he had to leave the field.

"The scan is inconclusive in that it showed no tears to muscles or ligaments so we are treating it as shoulder stiffness. If he gets through warm-ups, he will be allowed to bowl tomorrow and then we will take a call on his availability for the Cape Town Test after this match."

Given the current situation - South Africa are 261 runs behind and England still have seven wickets in hand - a speedy recovery for Steyn will be foremost in South Africa's mind. They will also be concerned about his long-term future, especially as this is the ninth time in two-and-half-years and second in successive series that Steyn has been injured.

He sustained a groin strain in South Africa's first bowling innings of a four-Test series in India and sat out the rest of the matches. That meant he spent almost seven weeks on the sidelines and the inaction followed by intense action contributed to the current niggle.

If Steyn is unable to bowl in this match, South Africa will have to rely on their two pacemen, Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott, the specialist spinner Dane Piedt and the part-timers. Should not Steyn not recover for the Newlands match, which starts two days after this one is scheduled to end, Kagiso Rabada, who is in the squad, will be the most likely replacement. South Africa will probably also look for cover in the form of some of their franchise players and Hardus Viljoen could find himself in line.

The Lions' quick took ten wickets in a first-class match last week and has already taken six in this week's fixture, in which he has only bowled in one innings. Marchant de Lange, who travelled to India as cover, may also be called up.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent