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Blow for SA as Steyn ruled out of second Test

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Bengaluru: The visiting South African cricket team was today dealt another body blow with injured pace spearhead Dale Steyn being ruled out of the second Test against India starting here tomorrow.

The development comes close on the heels of South Africa losing Vernon Philander due to multiple ligament injuries in his left ankle. Steyn was ruled out after he failed to recover fully from a groin injury suffered during the first Test in Mohali.

“Obviously losing Dale, the best bowler in the world, and Vernon, arguably the best all-rounder in the world, certainly changes the dynamics of the side,” South Africa skipper Hashim Amla told reporters before their net practice at Chinnaswamy stadium today.

The 31-year-old Steyn did not bowl in the second innings in Mohali after he experienced tightness in his groin during the second day of the opening Test.

However, Amla was hopeful of Steyn recovering in time for the next Test to be played at Nagpur beginning November 25. “I am hopeful Steyn will recover well on time for the third Test at Nagpur,” he said.

Cricket South Africa, soon after Philander was ruled out of rest of the series due to multiple ligament injuries in his left ankle, flown in Kyle Abbott as replacement.Replying to a query, Amla said that Abbott could replace the injured Steyn.

Asked whether the decision to fit Abbott into the squad was taken late because Steyn was injured during first Test, Amla said, “Even if Vernon was playing, we knew we had three quality seamers in the team. So I don’t think it matters too much. Vernon hurt his ankle just yesterday, these things happen. Sometimes you get fairytale stories from these situations,” he said.

Replying to a query on players who would be replacing Steyn and Philander, Amla said, “The guys who are going to be replacing them are quality cricketers. We are fortunate that we have great depth in our bowling especially. If you are going to win a Test series, the series is won with 15 players usually, not just 11. Although it’s early in the series, I still think we have a potent attack to back it up.”Amla further said Abbott is a wonderful professional.

“If Kyle has a good match, then so be it. One thing I do know about Kyle – he is a wonderful professional. When he puts his boots on, he is ready even if he gets off the plane 10 minutes before he bowls the first ball.”

There was a good news for the South African camp to cherish about as their batting all-rounder J P Duminy passed the fitness test. The stogy South African southpaw recovered from a finger injury suffered during the Rajkot ODI while going for a catch off his own bowling.

Being a very good batsman of spin, Duminy’s comeback could bolster the South African middle order, which looked susceptible in the previous Test. South Africa are one down in the four-match Test series after they lost the first Test by 108 runs. The second Test begins here tomorrow.

Talking further about Abbott, Amla said he is similar to Philander, and has been an outstanding reserve bowlers for South Africa in past couple of years.

“Yes, he is ready. Abbott has been one of our outstanding reserve bowlers in the last couple of years. Whenever he has got an opportunity – in all formats – he has done exceptionally well. He is similar to Vernon, in the sense that he is consistent in where he lands the ball, and you know what you will get. He has great control and great know-how on what to do with the ball,” he said.