The Proteas have been dealt a severe blow to their chances of levelling the series against Sri Lanka after all-rounder Vernon Philander was ruled out on Tuesday.
Philander was unable to bowl on what turned out to be the final day of the first Test at Kingsmead last week due to a hamstring problem.
That played a major role in the outcome of the match, as Kusal Perera played one of the most memorable innings in Test history with an unbeaten 153 to guide Sri Lanka to a sensational one-wicket triumph as they chased down 304.
“Injury update from the Proteas camp: Vernon Philander will miss the second Castle Lager Test against Sri Lanka due to a hamstring injury. There will be no replacement add to the squad,” Cricket South Africa posted on their Twitter account on Tuesday.
The circumstances in which the Durban loss occurred may see the Proteas brains-trust opt for a similar replacement in Wiaan Mulder for Philander for the second Test that starts at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
The young Lions star, though, is much more of a batting all-rounder compared to Philander, who is one of the leading Test seamers in world cricket.
Mulder would strengthen the batting line-up should he get the nod for his Test debut, but considering the struggles that the Proteas top-order are going through, another option would be to bring back Zubayr Hamza.
The Cape Cobras right-hander looked accomplished in his first Test knock when he scored 41 against Pakistan at the Wanderers, and was unlucky to be dismissed cheaply in the second innings when the ball kept low.
Injury update from the Proteas camp: Vernon Philander will miss the second Castle Lager Test against Sri Lanka due to a hamstring injury. There will be no replacement add to the squad #SAvSL pic.twitter.com/gKiU2ZGexc— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) February 19, 2019
Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn.@ashfakmohamed