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Dale Steyn, the veteran South Africa pacer, has been ruled out of the side’s opening match of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 against England.

Steyn, 35, had aggravated a long-standing right shoulder injury during his short stint in the Indian Premier League. He had been under observation and coach Ottis Gibson confirmed on Tuesday, 28 May, that he won’t be fully fit in time for the tournament opener at The Oval on Thursday.

Steyn is also unlikely to feature in their second match, against Bangladesh at the same venue on Sunday, with the 5 June game against India identified for his return.

Steyn did not feature in South Africa’s warm-up win against Sri Lanka and, according to reports, did not train in full flow on Tuesday, only jogging in with a shortened run-up.

“He’s not quite ready yet. He’s not far away … but not quite yet,” Gibson said on the sidelines of the team’s training. “We think with a six-week tournament, there is no real need to force the issue.

“We know that he is close and he’s getting closer every day. We’ll give him as much time as we can to get him ready. We hope that if not by Sunday then by the India game.”

South Africa have among the most potent pace bowling attacks going into the tournament, but injuries have been a concern. Kagiso Rabada too returned early from the IPL after a back issue, while Lungi Ngidi is only just returning from a spell on the sidelines. The team had earlier been forced to withdraw Anrich Nortje because of a fractured thumb.

In Steyn’s absence, Faf du Plessis has the option to ask Dwaine Pretorius or Chris Morris to step into the attack.

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