Morne Morkel's participation in the remainder of the first Test against Bangladesh is in doubt after he sustained a side strain on the fourth afternoon. Morkel will be taken for scans on Monday. This also raises question marks over his availability for the second Test starting October 6.
Morkel, who took two wickets in a searing opening burst, left the field in his sixth over of the second innings. He bowled Tamim Iqbal off his fourth ball and trapped Mominul Haque lbw with his sixth. However, replays showed the ball would have missed leg stump, but Mominul didn't avail a review.
In his next over, Morkel knocked out Mushfiqur Rahim's middle-stump with a full delivery but had overstepped in doing so. That made it the 14th time in Tests that he'd taken a wicket off a no-ball. Temba Bavuma said the disappointment if missing the wicket lingered.
"Morne is a big team player, and he's obviously a senior player in the team so he knows there's a lot of responsibility thrust on his shoulders to lead the attack. When he commits a cardinal sin he really takes it emotionally," Bavuma said. "I think if there was still time out there on the field he would have come back even stronger. Knowing the guy, I understand the emotional side of it all and I know that sitting in the change room he's still having a go at himself."
Morkel had more time in the change room than he might have expected. He only bowled 20 more deliveries before walking off, with Duanne Olivier completing the over.
Morkel has had a fairly regular load in this Test match. He bowled 19 overs in the first innings, five less than Kagiso Rabada's 24 but more than Olivier (11) or Andile Phehlukwayo, the fourth seamer. Phehlukwayo, who was particularly under-utilised, bowled only six overs, thereby bringing into question South Africa's strategy to play the extra bowler.
The slowness of the surface has meant Keshav Maharaj, the left-arm spinner, has had to do more than his share of the work, with 27.1 overs in the first innings. He was given the ball in the 12th over of the second innings.
With Bangladesh sliding in the second innings, South Africa should not miss Morkel too much in Potchefstroom, but Bavuma still described it as a "massive blow," and was even willing to step up himself, if needs be.
"He's the leader of the attack and he was hot at that point in time. Luckily we've got guys in the reserve tank, and I'll be bringing my bowling spikes tomorrow as well," Bavuma joked "Andile, KG, Keshav and Duanne will all be putting their hands up and doing work for the team."
Still, Morkel's injury adds to a growing list of walking wounded in the South African camp. They are already without Dale Steyn, who continues to recover from a shoulder injury, Vernon Philander and Chris Morris, both of whom will only resume playing later in October.
Wayne Parnell, not considered for selection in this Test because of lack of four-day cricket recently, Beuran Hendricks and Dwaine Pretorius are the other players who may come into consideration.