Johannesburg – Proteas' coach Russell Domingo is confident Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis will be ready to play in the first One Day International (ODI) cricket match against India at the Wanderers on Thursday.
The pair missed the last ODI against Pakistan on Saturday, but the coach said they would make a welcome return for the start of the Indian tour at the Bullring.
“I think it was precautionary that Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis didn't play the last game,” Domingo said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“They did have some slight niggles, but we'll see how they go in practice and we'll be fine.”
Although Kallis played in the two ODIs the Proteas lost against Pakistan, his presence in the team would be a boost, Domingo said.
“It's great to have Jacques back. He's three players in one. It's great that he's playing again.
“It does pose some selection challenges. It's not easy selecting a side where the guys in the past have done well individually. When Jacques is fit to play, any coach would have him in his team. The issue is finding a way to leave somebody out.”
Domingo said Ryan McLaren could feel hard done by if he were to miss out for Kallis.
Despite holding the top spot in the Test rankings, the Proteas lie way down in fifth position in ODIs, and playing India, who are the top team in the 50-over format, would give South Africa a good idea of their progress.
“This series is a big gauge for us. We've won five of our last eight ODIs, so we're heading in the right direction.
“We know India is going to be a tough assignment for us. They're coming off some outstanding performances, albeit in Indian conditions. We need to see if we're going in the right direction and this will be a big test for us.”
Domingo dismissed speculation that his side had problems against spin following the series loss to Pakistan.
“I think it's one or two spin bowlers. Saeed Ajmal might be the best in the world right now. He's a world class spinner and has been for a period of time.
“He's always going to be tough. I don't think we have a weakness against spin bowling. It was just that Ajmal was a world class bowler and I'm glad he's back in Pakistan now.”
The Wanderers' track would also negate any perceived advantage the spinners would have, Domingo said.
“When you're playing up in Johannesburg, where the ball might not spin as much, those spinners become less of a factor. When you're playing on coastal and sub-continent wickets, those spinners really come into the game. We've been playing on those wickets quite a lot recently.
“We're just looking forward to playing on some faster, bouncier wickets. Maybe spin is not such a big factor.”
Domingo, like MS Dhoni on Monday, said the players would avoid becoming involved in boardroom issues which ended up cutting short India's tour of South Africa.
“It would've been nice to play a longer series. India is a quality side. They're a big attraction and it's great to test ourselves against them. That's the way it is, there's nothing we can do about it.
“The length to me is not such a major issue. We know whether it's three or five matches we will have to be at our best. I don't think it's diminished at all.” – Sapa