The South African pacer was included in the 16-man squad for the upcoming ODI series against Zimbabwe which gets underway on September 30.
The 35-year-old has had rotten luck with regards to injury over the past two years. He was sidelined for almost a year after fracturing his shoulder South Africa’s 2016-17 tour of Australia. When he did finally make his much awaited comeback in the first Test against India at the start of the year, Steyn suffered another freakish toe injury which triggered another extended spell on the sidelines.
The Proteas pacer then made his return competitive cricket for Hampshire in the County Championship this summer before being included in South Africa’s Test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka.
The fast-bowling stalwart had recently expressed his desire to put on the South Africa jersey for the 2019 World Cup in England. Therefore, Steyn’s return to the ODI fold for the first time since October, 2016 augurs well for his chances of fulfilling that dream.
The Proteas' ODI squad v Zimbabwe has just been announced!— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) September 14, 2018
F du Plessis, H Amla, JP Duminy, R Hendricks, I Tahir, Christiaan Jonker, H Klaasen, K Maharaj, A Markram, W Mulder, L Ngidi, A Phehlukwayo, K Rabada, T Shamsi , D Steyn, K Zondo. #ProteaFire pic.twitter.com/SfWLjG3yuz
Christiaan Jonker is the only new face in the 16-man squad announced on Friday with Quinton de Kock and David Miller being given a rest.
Faf du Plessis continues to lead the Proteas side despite struggling with a shoulder injury sustained on the tour of Sri Lanka. The South African skipper’s availability for the series is subject to fitness tests and a replacement will be named in case he is unable to recover in time.
The three ODIs between hosts Zimbabwe and South Africa will be followed by as many T20Is.
Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Khaya Zondo.
Faf du Plessis (c), Gihahn Cloete, Junior Dala, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Robbie Frylinck, Imran Tahir, Jonker, Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Ngidi, Dane Paterson, Phehlukwayo, Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.
The Dubai International Cricket stadium will be the setting for the Group B clash between the two teams who are separated by just eight rating points in the ICC ODI rankings.
Sri Lanka are the second most successful team in the tournament’s history with five titles to their name while Bangladesh are searching for their maiden Asia Cup trophy.
INJURIES RAVAGE BOTH TEAMS
The two teams are both dealing with injury concerns of their own coming into the tournament opener. For Bangladesh, star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan is nursing a finger injury for which he has deferred the surgery until the completion of the tournament. Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal is also struggling with a bruised finger with Mominul Haque called up to the squad as backup.
The third injury relates to off-spinner Nazmul Hossain who is recovering from an injury to his bowling hand.
Sri Lanka too are not without their troubles in the injury department with opener Danushka Gunathilaka being sent home after sustaining a lower-back problem. In his place, 27-year-old Shehan Jayasuriya has been called up as a replacement. The islanders have already lost the services of regular skipper Dinesh Chandimal who had been ruled out of the tournament due to a finger injury. In his stead, wicketkeeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella has been called up the squad with all-rounder Angelo Mathews being named as the stand-in skipper.
LASITH MALINGA COMEBACK ON THE HORIZON
Plenty of heads were turned after veteran Lasith Malinga was named in the Sri Lanka squad for the tournament.
The 35-year-old’s last appearance in Sri Lanka colours came in a T20I against India more than a year ago. The clamour for his return had been growing in recent times and his international comeback is expected to grab plenty of eyeballs. It remains to be seen if Mathews picks the veteran pacer in the playing XI but if he does, expect those famous searing yorkers and slower balls to make an appearance soon.
Malinga did not play in the last edition of the IPL after being moved to a bowling mentor’s role with his franchise Mumbai Indians. He will not be short of match practice for the Asia Cup though given his recent participation in the Sri Lanka Cricket T20 League for Kandy.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Mashrafe Mortaza (C), Mosaddek Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman and Mehidy Hasan.
Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera , Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Angelo Mathews (C), Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Thisara Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, and Kusal Mendis.
VENUE – Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
Time – 15:30 GST
The Indian team has received plenty of flak in recent times for their short-sighted approach with regards to warm-up matches in their overseas tours. In their tour of South Africa at the start of the year, the team did not play a single warm-up match before the three-Test series which they lost 1-2.
In the just concluded tour of England, India played only a single warm-up game against Essex ahead of the five-match Test series where they were handed a 1-4 defeat.
In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, Shastri pointed towards team India’s hectic international schedule as one of the reasons for scheduling so few warm-up matches.
“If you have two or three games against weaker sides we don’t mind because it is a game. But when you have a schedule as tight as this and when you have a memorandum of understanding that has already been formulated, with a choc-a-bloc calendar, there is very little you can do,” Shastri said.
“Now, we have requested for a couple of (warm-up) games in Australia before the Test series. But is there space (to play those matches)? That is the question,” he added.
When asked if the team was averse to the idea of playing warm-up matches, Shastri replied: “Why would we be? You can only see the results. Every time after the second Test we have improved. You can still get better. But why can’t we be in that position in the first Test match?”
“Ideally we would want two three- or four-day games before a Test series. But do you have the time? For example, we have a T20 series in Australia preceding the Test series. There is a 10-day gap before the first Test. These are things that have been approved earlier. It is not in our control,” Shastri continued.
India skipper Virat Kohli had recently questioned the utility of playing warm-up matches himself.
India’s tour of Australia gets underway in November this year with a three-match T20I series to start things off. The T20s will be followed by a four-match Test series and three ODIs.