Birmingham: In what could be a big blow to South Africa, tearaway pacer Dale Steyn may miss their must-win Champions Trophy match against Pakistan here on Monday as he has not recovered fully from the side strain he suffered in a warm-up game.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers said a final decision has not been taken on the fast bowler but his fitness was not looking good. Steyn had missed South Africa's first match against India on June 6.
"Chances are that he'll only be ready for the last one. We're still hanging on to that last little bit of hope that Styen could wake up tomorrow morning and do a bit of a fitness test and look good for the game," de Villiers said ahead of Monday's match.
He said all-rounder Chris Morris is all set to make his ODI debut at Edgbaston. For both South Africa and Pakistan, Monday's fixture is a crunch game. Both teams have lost their opening games against India and the West Indies respectively. Nothing short of a win will keep the two teams afloat in a short tournament where four teams make a group.
South Africa had defeated Pakistan by 124 runs at Mohali in October 2006 in the only time the two nations met in the Champions Trophy. On current form, it's difficult to predict a clear favourite. South Africa are wary about Pakistan's bowling attack and de Villiers made a special mention of off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.
"Pakistan obviously have got a world class spinner in Ajmal and they're a very good team as well, just very different to India. India have a very strong batting lineup right throughout the order, whereas Pakistan have probably got a stronger bowling attacking. We played them (Pakistan) in the recent past in South Africa and in the warm up game in London. We know them very well, and we're looking forward to the challenge tomorrow," said de Villiers.
South Africa lost their opening match against India by 26 runs at Cardiff but de Villiers said they had learnt lessons from that defeat.
"We are well aware of the Pakistani bowling attack.
They're a very good attack, and we'd like to have obviously wickets in hand towards the last 15 overs," said de Villiers, adding much will depend on the playing conditions at Edgbaston.
"Yesterday, watching the game between Australia and England which looks like a similar wicket that we're playing on tomorrow, the one spinner from England, (James) Tredwell, bowled really well. But I thought it were the seamers that really started reversing the ball there towards the end, there was a bit of swing and really restricted the batters and made them look like they can't get it off the square," he said, emphasising that South Africa will again depend on their four seamers against Pakistan.
Morris is almost certain to start and de Villiers gave Morne Morkel's replacement a big boost saying, "He looks really fresh. Chris has impressed us all at the IPL (he played for Chennai Super Kings). In the last year, he's been amazing.
"He's a guy full of confidence and a guy that we really enjoy having around. You know, we were unlucky to have Morne and Dale injured, but to have a guy like Chris replace them is really pleasing to me."
Morris, a 26-year-old bowling all-rounder from Pretoria, has played two T20 internationals for South Africa, making his debut against New Zealand in Durban in December 2012.