Temba Bavuma will take no part in South Africa's ongoing Test series against India after fracturing his right finger during a domestic one-day cup match on January 17. Bavuma will need three to four weeks of recovery time but will remain part of the Test squad, with the selectors opting not to name a replacement batsman.
South Africa already have an extra batsman in Theunis de Bruyn, who, like Bavuma, has not played in either of the two already completed Tests.
Neither Bavuma nor de Bruyn would have considered themselves likely to make the starting XI, given South Africa's new preference for a four-pronged pace pack and six specialist batsmen, but with Aiden Markram's injury, both may have fancied their chances. Markram suffered a mild quad strain during the Centurion Test and was unable to take the field in India's second innings. He received treatment throughout the week and will undergo a fitness test on January 23, to determine his availability for the Wanderers Test, which starts the following day.
Should Markram be unable to join Dean Elgar at the top of the order, de Bruyn is a now shoe-in for the role. Though de Bruyn does not open the batting in franchise cricket, he opened in one of his three Tests, when he replaced Stephen Cook in New Zealand for the final Test in Hamilton. There, he made a first-innings duck and second-innings 12. Bavuma has also opened the batting before, in the final Test against India in Delhi in 2015, where he replaced Stiaan van Zyl.
Bavuma is expected to recover in time for the four Test series against Australia, which begins on March 1.