Mumbai, Nov 20: South Africa have called up fast bowler Marchant de Lange to bolster their bowling reserves, hit hard by the injuries to Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn, for the last two Test matches against India.
A Cricket South Africa (CSA) media release stated today that while Steyn continued to make progress from a groin injury, sustained during the first Test at Mohali that the visitors lost, he remained a doubtful starter to play in the third match of the series commencing at Nagpur on November 25.
Philander suffered a freak ankle injury during a warm-up football session at Bengaluru in the run-up to the second Test and has returned home for treatment. De Lange was part of the Proteas T20 squad that beat India 2-0 in the first leg of the tour, and has played two Tests, the last being against New Zealand in Wellington in 2012.
The visitors are trailing India 0-1 after losing the series opener at Mohali, while the second game at Bengaluru was washed out by rain with no play possible after the first day.
Explaining the decision to call up De Lange, South Africa coach Russell Domingo, said, "At the moment we only have three fit seamers in Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott, so with Dale still struggling with a groin injury we decided to bring Marchant in as cover so we are prepared in case one of the three breaks down.
"Marchant's biggest strength is pace. If the ball does start to reverse-swing his pace through the air brings him into the contest. Even though his performances back home have been a bit inconsistent, we do know that as an impact player he is a guy that can turn the game with a good spell. Guys that can bowl at 150 km per hour will always be good value."
The Proteas have had a few days to assess and dissect their short-comings and travel to Nagpur tomorrow.
Domingo said the side will take some confidence from the performances past teams have achieved at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, in Jamtha, but will need a significant improvement in all disciplines to continue with the Proteas' winning streak at the venue.
"We've done it before," Domingo said of winning from behind.
"We know that we are still in the contest with two matches to play, the wickets are definitely going to produce results. We are 1-0 down so we have every chance of turning it around in Nagpur. We are aware that we have to play better cricket with bat and with ball, but we are hopeful that we can rectify that.
"We have a lot of inexperienced players who haven't played in India before so hopefully they will have learnt a lot of lessons from these first two matches."
He recalled South Africa's earlier stint at Nagpur in 2010 that ended with them winning the Test match by an innings after a poor start. "I wasn't there on that tour but I remember South Africa being 6/2 and (Jaques) Kallis getting 160 and (Hashim) Amla getting 250 to give the team a comfortable win in the backend," he said.
The Proteas, led by Graeme Smith recovered from the poor start to score a mammoth 558 for 6 declared with Amla, who is leading the side now, making 253 and the now-retired Kallis making 173.
India, in reply folded up for 233 against Steyn's express pace that gave him figures of 7 for 51. Following on, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side were shot out for 319 with Steyn (3 for 57) again finishing as the leading wicket taker.
"The side in general has good memories from the particular venue. We are going to have to play well, India are playing good cricket at the moment," the South Africa coach added.