South Africa fast bowler Duanne Olivier's absence in the first Test against India had raised some eyebrows. The in-form pacer was touted as a definite inclusion in the playing XI following Anrich Nortje's injury that forced him out of the series.
Olivier reportedly tested positive for coronavirus a few weeks back and was absent from training leading up to the first Test. He also suffered a hamstring niggle during an inter-squad warm-up game. While speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, convenor of selectors, Victor Mpitsang said:
"Duanne Olivier is healthy and well, but did return a positive Covid-19 test result a number of weeks ago, which forced him to quarantine and took time away from his training ahead of the current Betway Test series against India."
"This [Covid-19] did take place while he was away with the intention to spend time with his family and his workloads were not where the selection panel would have wanted them to be by the time he entered the team bubble ahead of the first Test match."
The selectors chose not to risk the 29-year-old for the first Test at Centurion following the hamstring niggle. Mpitsang added:
"He picked up a hamstring niggle during the two-day, inter-squad match at the start of the camp and the selectors did not want to risk him unnecessarily when there are two more Test matches to think about."
Duanne Olivier has played 10 Tests for the national team so far. He has picked up 48 wickets at an exceptional average of 19.25.
Olivier was replaced by Marco Jansen in the playing XI
With Olivier not being available for the series opener, he was replaced by left-arm pacer Marco Jansen in the playing XI. The 21-year-old, who represented the Mumbai Indians in the 2021 IPL, was handed his debut cap on Boxing Day.
The four-pronged South African pace-attack were far from best on Day 1 of the Test. Lungi Ngidi claimed all three wickets that fell. The rest of the bowling unit were successful in keeping things tight in patches, but lacked potency.