AB de Villiers, who missed the IPL 2017 season opener with a back injury, is a doubtful starter for Royal Challengers Bangalore's second match against Delhi Daredevils in Bengaluru on Saturday as well. De Villiers said the franchise will take a call on his fitness after a training session on Thursday. He also confirmed that he will not keep wicket this season.
De Villiers was initially set to captain RCB while full-time captain Virat Kohli recovers from a shoulder injury, but then he had to pull out of the final of the Momentum Cup, South Africa's premier domestic one-day tournament, last Friday.
"Even though I'm very very keen to get on the field, I'll make sure that I'm 100% fit," de Villiers said on Thursday. "Because, if you go on the park and you're 90%, you might be out for longer anyway. It doesn't make sense. I am going to test it [the back] out this afternoon. We've got a nets session. I'll hit a couple of balls, see what it feels like, and then we'll make a call."
RCB are also missing their regular wicketkeeper KL Rahul due to injury. Maharashtra's part-time wicketkeeper Kedhar Jadhav - he has kept in 24 matches out of 263 across formats - took the gloves against Sunrisers Hyderabad, but did not look comfortable against either spin or pace. Before the tournament, RCB coach Daniel Vettori had said they might consider de Villiers for the role, but the batsman has said no.
"I will definitely not consider wicketkeeping," de Villiers said. "I'll miss the next five years if I start keeping again. My back won't allow that. My back is sore because of all those years of keeping."
Given the number of first-choice players RCB were missing through injury, de Villiers said the team was always going to find the opening game tough. They ended up losing the match by 35 runs, their worst loss in terms of runs since April 2013.
"Last night's game was always going to be difficult," de Villiers said. "It is the first game of the season. The [Royal Challengers] team that played the final last year and the team that played last night, I think there were about five or six changes. So, it was always going to be difficult to hit the ground running without Virat [Kohli], myself, and KL Rahul, all leaders in their own right. But I have never doubted the skill and the talent of the team. I have no doubt in my mind that we will come back strong from this."
Kohli, like Rahul, was missing due to injuries picked up in the preceding Test series against Australia. De Villiers said he had initially doubted Kohli's leadership skills, given his public displays of emotion, but was happy with what he saw during India's extended home Test season.
"I think it has been an amazing journey to watch him grow as a leader. I think, at the start, when the people mentioned to me he has leadership qualities and might become a captain one day, I doubted it. I thought he was emotional with his reactions. [Now] I think he has found a way to deal with it. He has showed he has skills with his captaincy and he has taken all the doubters and showed them he can conquer anything.
"He did not have the best of series with bat in hand in the last series [against Australia] but what stood out for me was his leadership. He led from the front and that showed. I think that's the greatest test for a captain - when you don't do well personally and how you come through as a captain. He came through with flying colours."
AB de Villiers was speaking at a promotional event for his app, AB 17, by FanHero.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo