Southampton - On Tuesday, when it seemed that things couldn't get any worse for the Proteas at the World Cup, they did. 

South Africa have lost both of their matches at the tournament so far, they have Lungi Ngidi out of Wednesday's clash against India at the Rose Bowl and, on Tuesday, they learned that Dale Steyn was ruled out of the tournament without bowling a ball, finally succumbing to his shoulder injury. 

It is a devastating blow to South Africa, who desperately need a win to kick-start their campaign. 

Just how they will go about doing that against India is questionable, and they will certainly need something special given that their fast bowling unit has been decimated. 

More than that, Wednesday's clash will be a huge mental test for this group and their leader Faf du Plessis

The skipper was putting on a brave face at the Rose Bowl on Tuesday as media quizzed him on the current fractured state of the squad, but he could not deny that losing Steyn was a huge blow.

"Injuries are never part of what you do when you come to a tournament like this," he said.

"I've said so many times that our x-factor as a team is going to depend on our brilliant bowling attack. At the moment the hard fact is that two of those players, Lungi and Dale, are not on the field.

"We haven't had one game where we have had our first XI on the field yet and that is challenging.

"It changes everything for us from a balance point of view, but we've still got to get on the field and put a performance on."

If it didn't already, a semi-final spot for South Africa now looks a seriously long way off. 

Beuran Hendricks is Steyn's replacement, but he will only arrive in England on Wednesday morning and will not feature against India.

For Du Plessis, now is the time to lead. 

"A lot has happened. There are a lot of injuries and we're  0 from 2, so for me it's really important to stay strong," he said.

"The team can feed off my energy and they will look up to the leadership group, so it's important that I keep motivating the guys.

"There is still hopes for us and a lot of cricket left.

"Naturally guys will have a little bit of confidence that has been chipped away. That's normal and it's part of being human, but we just have to make sure that we keep fighting and stay true to ourselves."

Play on Wednesday starts at 11:30 (SA time). 

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...