Injury puzzle for the Proteas

2011-03-15 00:00

KOLKATA — South Africa have injury worries over their leading run scorer and wicket-taker at the Cricket World Cup ahead of the Group B match against Ireland today.

South Africa coach Corrie van Zyl confirmed yesterday that batsman AB de Villiers had gone for a scan on an injured left thigh muscle, a problem that forced him to use a runner in Saturday’s victory over India.

“We are just waiting for a full medical report so we will make a decision a little bit later,” Van Zyl said. “I’m not a doctor. I don’t think it’s major in terms of out of the tournament, but as I said I’m not a doctor. I’ll wait for the doctor’s report.”

De Villiers has scored two centuries and a half-century in four innings at the World Cup and is likely to be left out for the game against the Irish as South Africa plan ahead for the knockout stage.

De Villiers also struggled with a lower back problem earlier in the tournament, with Morne van Wyk taking over wicketkeeping duties.

Leading bowler Imran Tahir, who has 11 wickets in three matches, is resting a fractured left thumb that sidelined him during South Africa’s dramatic, last-over win over India.

The leg-spinner was already expected to sit out today’s game after he was advised to undergo a 10-day recovery period. He fractured the finger against England on March 6.

Van Zyl said his starting lineup against Ireland “depends on availability” but insisted South Africa would still be strong in Kolkata as they look to seal their place in the quarter-finals.

“We said when we left South Africa that we have got a 15-man squad we feel that can represent South Africa on any given day,” Van Zyl told reporters. “That gives us options and I believe that even if both of them [De Villiers and Tahir] can’t play on Tuesday, then the 11 that we put in the field will be a strong 11.”

The South Africans chose not to practice at the renovated Eden Gardens yesterday and will head into today’s match without a formal workout at the stadium.

Van Zyl later went to examine the Eden Gardens pitch with the team manager and media manager, with no sign of the Proteas players.

“Because we are not training doesn’t mean we are not prepared,” Van Zyl said. “This is part of our preparation, having close games [against India]. Sometimes you just get caught up with it.

Do you have to practise or do you practise for the sake of practising? But being prepared is important ...”

Following the dramatic win over India, which Van Zyl said was a psychological boost for the team, South Africa need one point from their remaining group games against Ireland and Bangladesh to reach the quarter-finals.

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