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Faf in doubt, AB on track for Aussies

Mixed news for South Africa's injured stars as Australia series approaches

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis remains in doubt for the first Test against Australia next month but injured duo AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock are expected to be fit, according to reports. 

Meanwhile star paceman Dale Steyn, who is recovering from a heel injury he sustained in the first Test against India in Cape Town in early January, will reportedly not be considered for selection until the third Test at Newlands starting in a month's time. 

Du Plessis fractured his right index finger in the first one-day international against India on February 1 and is now in a race against time to be fit for the first Test in Durban against Australia from March 1. 

Middle-order batsman Temba Bavuma is also recovering from a fractured finger he sustained in a domestic one-dayer on January 17.

The recent history of Australia v South Africa

South Africa team manager Mohammad Moosajee confirmed the fitness status of the injured Proteas to ESPN.

"We've obviously had a lot of senior guys out injured and it's had an effect," Moosajee said.

"But we are sure AB (de Villiers) and Quinton will be ready for the first Test and we are hopeful Faf will be. 

"When he was diagnosed (on February 2) we knew he would require four to six weeks recovery time, which takes us, at the earliest, to the first week in March. 

"So we have to take it on a week-by-week basis and see how he is progressing. The same with Temba, though he might be out for a week more than Faf."

Aussie quicks fire up ahead of SA Tests

Australian fans will remember du Plessis for his marathon match-saving century on debut at Adelaide Oval in 2012 and his involvement in the ball tampering saga last summer.

Du Plessis denied any wrongdoing for shining the ball from saliva taken off a mint in his mouth but was fined by the International Cricket Council for ball tampering and responded with a brilliant century in Adelaide after his side had clinched the series and forced Australia into a seismic team overhaul.

Sweet success as du Plessis mints a century

The expected return of de Villiers and de Kock, whom were ruled out of the T20 international series against India with a knee issue and a wrist injury in the second ODI respectively, will be a major boost for the Proteas, who have not beaten Australia on home soil since international readmission more than 25 years ago.

Australia allrounder Mitchell Marsh is thrilled to be competing against de Villiers and the star-studded South Africans.

"For the fans we want both sides at full strength," Marsh told cricket.com.au in Johannesburg on Monday. 

"I think it's going to be a great series to be a part of. 

"AB de Villiers, we know how great he is and how quickly he can take a game away from a team but at the same time it's an opportunity to try beat a team on top of their game."

Aussies bring a smile to brave kids

Qantas tour of South Africa

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.

Warm-up match v SA Invitational XI, Sahara Park, Benoni, Feb 22-24

First Test Kingsmead, Durban, March 1-5

Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13

Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3