CAPE TOWN – South Africa’s batting woes are set to be compounded with Quinton de Kock joining the growing list of injured Proteas batsmen.
Captain Faf du Plessis has already been ruled out of the remainder of the limited-overs series against India, while AB de Villiers is missing the first three matches of the series.
Now after slumping to 118 all out in the 2nd ODI at Centurion – South Africa’s lowest-ever ODI score on home soil – De Kock has also been forced to the sidelines with a bruised wrist.
Titans wicket-keeper Heinrich Klassen, who was included in the squad after Du Plessis was ruled out after the series-opener in Durban, is being lined up to make his ODI debut at Newlands on Wednesday.
De Kock’s withdrawal has certainly not helped South Africa’s chances of turning around a series in which the home team’s batsmen have struggled against the Indian spinners. The Proteas are currently trailing 2-0 and in danger losing a first home ODI series to India.
The leg-spinning duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav has put the hosts under real pressure during the first two matches, claiming 13 wickets in the process. Chahal exploited the conditions perfectly at SuperSport Park on Sunday by finishing with career-best figures of 5/22.
Equally, they have both been very economical. Chahal has conceded just 3.65 runs per over with Yadav even less at 3.37.
This has led to South Africa failing to put any meaningful partnerships together in the series thus far.
The usually prolific Hashim Amla-De Kock opening partnership has yielded a best of only 39 runs in the first two matches of the series. In contrast, the pair put on 152 and 194 in the first two matches of the 2014 series against India here.
The best overall partnership for South Africa has been 76 for the sixth wicket between Du Plessis and Chris Morris at Kingsmead.
All of this places enormous pressure on South Africa’s young stand-in captain Aiden Markram.
The 23-year-old is only in the fledgling stages of his ODI career, and is still working out his own gameplans to be successful at this level. With De Kock out, he may be asked to open – his Test position – which could help him settle too.
"My general game plan is to try and take it quite deep, bat through the innings and let our attacking batsmen sort of play around me," Markram said after the Centurion defeat.
"I try to keep it as low-risk as possible, and then as soon as we get partnerships building, we'll chat between players and identify which bowler we'd like to put some pressure on and which guy we think we should just going low-risk. It all depends on the day as well."
De Kock’s enforced break could, though, be a blessing in disguise, as it has been a summer of torment for the talented left-hander.
From the onset of the RamSlam T20 Challenge, De Kock has failed to find the middle of the bat.
He scored just 118 runs at an average of 14.75 in eight innings in the domestic competition, and took that lack of form into the international season.
He did not score a half-century across seven Test innings against Zimbabwe and India, while the ODIs have not gone much better with scores of 34 and 20.
De Kock’s current mindset certainly came under scrutiny especially after the first ODI at Kingsmead when he walked off without reviewing an lbw decision off Chahal. Television replays showed the ball turning past his leg-stump.
* Later on Monday morning, Cricket South Africa confirmed that De Kock would sit out the last four ODIs and the T20 series against
He will not be replaced in the squad.
“Quinton suffered an extreme blow to the left wrist while batting in the second ODI on Sunday, and felt severe pain and discomfort,” Proteas team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee said.
“Further investigation revealed severe bony bruising to the area, with associated swelling around the tendon in the wrist. This type of injury will require between 2-4 weeks to heal, which subsequently rules him out of the remainder of the ODI and T20 series against
“The Cricket South Africa medical team will aim to have him ready for the Test series against Australia starting next month.”
* This story has been updated.