Dale Steyn needs just four wickets to reach the 400-milestone when South African meet Bangladesh in the first of two Tests on Tuesday.
A lot of focus will be on Dale Steyn.
It is almost certain Steyn will get his wickets in the first Test. Shaun Pollock is the only South African thus far to have reached 400 Test wickets for the Proteas.
If Steyn (78 Tests) does reach 400 wickets in the first Test, he will become the second fastest bowler ever to do it after Muttiah Muralitharan (72 Tests). Richard Hadlee from New Zealand did it in 80 Tests and is the quickest fast bowler to reach the milestone.
‘If it does happen in this series, it will be an extremely special achievement for Dale,’ Hashim Amla said at his pre-match press conference.
‘He has made crucial contributions to South African cricket over the years and I think his record is equally good on the subcontinent and at other places as it is at home.
‘The way he bowls and the commitment he bowls with is probably the main reason why he has been so successful. There are very few fast bowlers who are successful on flat wickets as Dale has been. His success is a combination of everything.’
Amla also hinted that a few players could make their Test debuts in the series.
Reeza Hendricks, Kagiso Rabada and Aaron Phangiso are yet to represent South Africa in Tests, but it is unlikely that all three will be given a chance in the first of two Tests on Tuesday.
Of the three, Hendricks should be the favourite to make his debut at the top of the order alongside Dean Elgar. Stiaan van Zyl is the other candidate to open the batting, but he is more likely to bat at No 5 in the absence of AB de Villiers.
Phangiso and Simon Harmer are the two recognised spinners in the squad, but Harmer should add to the single Test he played last year against the West Indies. Rabada has an outside chance of making his debut in this series in the second Test, especially if things go well in the first game.
‘There are some new faces in the squad, but we should allow them to grow into Test cricket instead of rushing them into it,’ said Amla.
‘We are a team in transition, especially in the batting department since Alviro Petersen, Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith retired.’
Asked specifically about Rabada, who had a good series in the one-dayers, Amla said: ‘You never want to rush someone into Test cricket. We have a settled bowling attack, but there is a possibility of some players making their debuts in the series, but it’s too early to tell.’
Amla acknowledged that Bangladesh would take some confidence from their ODI series victory over South Africa, but reiterated that Test cricket is a completely different format.