WATCH - Dale Steyn injures his heel while landing
Dale Steyn sustained significant damage to his left heel and could be out of the rest of the series against India, with an estimated recovery time of four to six weeks. Steyn is not going to bowl in the match, but may bat if needed. CSA will seek the advice of a leading ankle surgeon to see if Steyn's recovery could be sped up, but will likely adopt a cautious approach to monitoring his comeback.
"Understandably, he was disappointed but he will try his best to recover as quickly as possible. You could see how much he was enjoying himself out there," Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa's team manager, who is also a medical doctor said. "Generally, you need rest. That allows significant tissue damage to recover."
Steyn sustained the injury during his 18th over, three deliveries before the tea break. While preparing to bowl the fourth ball of the over, Steyn landed awkwardly in the footholds, and then stopped, fiddled with his shoe, tossed the ball to Vernon Philander, who completed the over, and then part-walked, part-jogged off the field. It was initially thought that he had a problem with his spikes but it soon emerged that the issue was more serious. Steyn was immediately taken for scans, which revealed the extent of the damage.
Moosajee emphasised that the injury was in "no way related to his bowling loads or previous injuries," of which there have been several in the past two years. This match marked Steyn's comeback after 13 months as he recovered from a shoulder surgery. Before that, Steyn had a groin injury (November 2015) and another, less severe shoulder concern (December 2015) which kept him out of action for the first seven months of 2016. He returned to play against New Zealand at home and then toured Australia, where he broke a bone in his shoulder on the second day of the Perth Test.
A lengthy recovery period followed and many thought Steyn would not play international cricket again but he kept at it and returned to action in this match. Steyn showed almost no signs of having been away and bowled with his usual swing and accuracy, and even got his pace up to the mid-140s. He took two wickets - Shikhar Dhawan on the first day and Wriddhiman Saha on the second - and is three away from overtaking Shaun Pollock as South Africa's leading Test wicket-taker.
If Steyn plays no further part in the series, he will likely look to feature in the four Tests against Australia which start in March. He may also play in some of the limited-overs matches against India in February.
For now, Steyn's participation in this match is all but over. He was seen limping severely as he left the ground on Saturday evening.
"At the moment it's quite tender and it's extremely uncomfortable to run," Moosajee said of Steyn's condition. "Obviously, with some anti-inflammatories and rest overnight, who knows how he might turn up tomorrow. But at this stage it's unlikely that he will be able to run. In fact, we'd probably like him to be non-weight bearing."
South Africa will take the field on the third day with only three seamers - Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel - and a spinner and will still need to take 10 Indian wickets for a win. They have been a man down before, though, and, at least one of the pack thinks it will not be impossible to push for a win even without Steyn.
"Luckily this time we went with four seamers. So there's three seamers now that have to do the work. Otherwise Temba would have to bowl again," Rabada joked, even though Bavuma is not in the starting XI. "But yes, it's never nice for Dale because he's just come back from injury, so just feeling very sympathetic for him. It's not a nice thing, but we have to find a way to win this Test match."