Nagpur, Nov 24 - In what would be a big blow to South Africa's aspirations of levelling the Test series against India, their leading pacer Dale Steyn is unlikely to play in the third Test, skipper Hashim Amla said on Tuesday.
Steyn, world's top ranked Test bowler, missed the rain-marred second match in Bangalore. He is still to recover fully from a groin injury and attain match fitness for the third game beginning here on Wednesday.
“Dale Steyn probably won’t play this Test match. I don’t think his injury has recovered sufficiently,” the South African captain said on Tuesday at a press conference.
“It looks like a good cricket wicket, and what we expected in the sub-continent. Not having Dale in the team is a setback, not having the best bowler in the world is never a nice thing. But we have some good reserves, and hopefully if they get a chance, they will stand up.”
Amla admitted his team has performed below their potential in the eries so far, but also insisted that they haven’t been as bad as the results have made them look. India are leading the four-Test series 1-0.
"We haven’t played our best cricket. In Mohali, for first three innings of the game, we were still in it. If India got bowled out for 200, and we for 184, it’s a pretty good indication that it was poised up to the last day, which we didn’t play well," he said.
"In the second Test, we didn’t bat well on that first day. So it hasn’t been the free-flowing cricket that we are used to, and hopefully in Nagpur we can get onto the field and give the character performance that South Africa is known for."
The Proteas captain expressed disappointment with his batsmen's form, hoping they would return to form in the remaining two Tests.
“I think being down certainly makes it a must-win game for us if we want to win the series. We came here to try and win the series. In the first game, we had five frontline bowlers, which for me was a very attacking option," the right-handed batsman said.
"You need 20 wickets to win the Test match, which we managed to do. The issue has been with the lack of runs more than the wickets, so hopefully we get the runs on the board and continue to play the game till the end."
The 32-year-old praised India's off-spinner Ravichandran Ashiwn for troubling his team's batsmen.
“I would have definitely liked to have got more runs in the one-dayers, as well as the Test matches so far. Hopefully the runs are still to come in the next two big matches to deal with. Ashwin has bowled well on tracks that have helped spin bowling, to his credit, and other spinners, they have bowled very well.”