Nagpur, Nov 24: South Africa are unlikely to have the services of their premier pace bowler Dale Steyn for the second match running as he was yet to fully recover from a groin injury, said visiting team skipper Hashim Amla on the eve of the third and penultimate Test against India.
"Dale Steyn won't probably play in this Test match, I don't think his injury has recovered fully," said Amla.
"Yes, not having Dale in the team is a setback because not having the best bowler in the world is never a nice thing. But we've got to deal with it, and we've got some good reserves. Hopefully, the guys who play will get a chance to stand out," he remarked.
Steyn grabbed 10 wickets after South Africa amassed over 500 runs to inflict a humiliating innings defeat on India when the two teams met five years ago at the same VCA Stadium in Jamtha.
South Africa have flown in Marchant de Lange as the back-up pacer ahead of the match. With South Africa trailing 0-1 in the four-Test rubber, Amla conceded the team's batting has failed to click, while hoping for a turnaround in this Orange City.
"We haven't played our best Test cricket. If one goes back in the past, at Mohali I'd definitely say that in the first three innings, we were definitely in it. If India got bowled out for 200, and we got bowled out for 187, I think it's fair reflection that the game was pretty poised up until the last innings, in which we didn't do too well, obviously. In the first day of the last Test, we didn't bat well again.
"So it hasn't been our full-flowing Test cricket that we're normally used to. This will be great for a start that hopefully in Nagpur we can get on to the pitch and put up a performance that the South African team is used to. The issue has been more with the lack of runs than the lack of wickets.
"Hopefully, we'll get the runs and continue to play the game to win."
The Proteas batsmen have come a cropper against the Indian spin attack and asked about the wicket prepared for the third game, Amla remarked wryly, "Well, it looks like a good cricket wicket, one that we kind of expect in the sub continent. They've played three spinners in the first game as well, so it's nothing new."
Conceding that India's lead spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and the others had bowled well in the rubber, he pointed out that his own team's slow bowlers had not been too far behind.
"Ashwin's has bowled well. The tracks have kind of helped spin bowling and to his cricket and to the other spinners in the Indian team, they've bowled very well. In the second innings of the first Test, our spinners took eight of the 10 wickets, so our spinners have also done a very decent job whenever theyve managed to bowl on tracks that turn. (Leg spinner) Imran (Tahir) has always been an attacking spinner and Simon (Harmer) has been growing in stature."
Asked about his own poor run in the series, Amla said, "I definitely would have liked to have got more runs in the one-dayers and Tests so far. Hopefully, the runs are still to come. We've got two big Test matches to deal with."
He did not give a straight answer whether the trouble the South African batsmen were facing was due to technical faults or whether they were frail in mind.
"When a team doesn't score runs, there will be a lot of different theories thrown about. As I said, in the first game, bowling India out for 200, had we won that game, this question would have probably have been thrown to India. So you've got to take things in perspective.
"Their spinners have bowled well, and it was probably the lack of turning balls that got us out. As a batter when you see a ball turn, it does make you aware that the ball is turning but when you leave one and it doesn't turn, you don't look too good."