Faf du Plessis’ return for the Boxing Day four-day Test against Zimbabwe has been stalled by a viral infection.
The Proteas captain has been out of action since late October when he sustained a back injury against Bangladesh and took no part in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge.
His return date was set for the pink-ball Test but he has suffered another setback on an already uncertain return.
‘Last week I was 80-20 for playing, probably now 60-40,’ Du Plessis told ESPN Cricinfo on Christmas Eve. ‘My progress was really good over the last two weeks but I picked up a virus last week which has slowed me down a little bit.
‘Right now, where we stand, trying to get to practice and see how it feels. I practised on Saturday and there was still a bit of pain in the back and when the professionals say there is pain in the disc, there is still a bit of risk.’
CSA will make a final call on their skipper’s availability on Christmas Day after a fitness Test.
‘I have been feeling really good in the nets,’ Du Plessis said. ‘I’ve had some time when the guys were playing Ram Slam. I was working with Neil McKenzie [former batting coach] in Cape Town and faced Dale [Steyn], also trying to see where he was at.
‘It was a great opportunity for me to work with him. I felt very good in the nets. I’d rather feel good and play no cricket than play cricket and not feel good.’
Steyn is also trying to regain fitness after a lengthy injury.
‘With Dale, in terms of the number of overs he has bowled leading up to the first Test, it’s important to assess how ready he is to bowl at a full intensity which is where we want him to be,’ Du Plessis said.
‘You want a Dale at 100% ready to go when he plays. If we feel that he is there, we will make a decision. If we feel he isn’t quite where he needs to be from a Test-match-intensity point of view, there is still enough time to get him ready for that first Test against India.’
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