Cape Town – A cruelly-timed hand injury to Temba Bavuma, who seemed a good bet for a recall, has narrowed the Proteas’ batting options for the third and final Test against India at the Wanderers from Wednesday.
Sport24 reliably learnt on Sunday that the tenacious little right-hander has been diagnosed with a fracture – one that may only side-line him for three weeks, but enough to rule him out of consideration for the Bullring and also more than half of the six-match one-day international series that follows.
The setback is inconvenient both to player and country; there has been understandable speculation that South Africa, already series victors, might wish to revert to seven batsmen – and a four-man attack made up entirely of quickies – for the closing Test against the Indians in anticipated damp and seam-friendly conditions.
Bavuma would have been fully entitled to feel he was first cab off the rank from the “reserves” under such circumstances, especially as the 27-year-old had been running into consistently healthy form again.
His last three knocks, from most recent, have been 65 for the Cape Cobras against the Knights in the Momentum One-Day Cup, 44 in the once-off Test against Zimbabwe before he was squeezed out of the XI for the first two Tests against the top-ranked Indians, and 70 against the Zimbabweans in a warm-up fixture for a CSA Invitation side at Paarl.
It is understood that he picked up the injury while on franchise duty.
CSA have been approached for official confirmation of Bavuma’s plight.
As well as itching to return to the Test plans, Bavuma, who doubles as a true fielding dynamo, would have wanted to be part of the ODI squad shortly – he has amassed 161 runs from just two prior appearances in the format, against Ireland (century-making debut, last season) and Bangladesh earlier this summer.
Instead, the focus now is likely to fall on Theunis de Bruyn, the other “extra” in the Test batting arsenal, for a possible berth at the Bullring on Wednesday if the Proteas decide, for example, not to field specialist spinner Keshav Maharaj.
De Bruyn, the 25-year-old from the Knights, has played three previous Tests for the Proteas, and although he sports only 72 runs from his six innings, they were tough fixtures at Hamilton (as makeshift opener), Lord’s and Old Trafford respectively.
The national selectors have generally prided themselves in recent times in giving rookie batsmen decent chances, as they say, and De Bruyn has not yet had the luxury of a Test on South African soil.
Apart from the Bavuma snag to their options, the Proteas must also await the outcome of a fitness test on Tuesday to in-form opener Aiden Markram, who has been nursing a quadricep niggle.
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