De Villiers ruled out of India T20 series

Knee injury forces star batsman to withdraw from series, with aim to be fit for first Test against Australia

Superstar batsman AB de Villiers has been ruled out of South Africa's T20I series with India, beginning Monday in Johannesburg.

De Villiers has succumbed to a left knee injury, and was on Sunday withdrawn from the three-match series, though South Africa officials and medical staff are hopeful he will be fit for the opening Test against Australia, which starts on March 1.

"AB de Villiers will not be able to take part in the T20 International series against India due to a left knee injury," said Proteas team manager, Dr Mohammed Moosajee.

"He suffered a blow to the knee while batting ahead of the fifth ODI, and although he passed a fitness test on Friday, the injury worsened significantly throughout the match.

"The Cricket South Africa medical team has advised he is given a period of rest and rehabilitation to make a full recovery ahead of the four-match series against Australia starting next month."

De Villiers only played the final three ODIs in the recently completed six-match series against India, owing to a finger injury sustained in the Test series.

Refreshed Smith ready and raring to face Proteas

The 34-year-old only returned to Test cricket in December after spending nearly 24 months away from the longest format due to injury and a self-imposed break.

He made three half-centuries in his first three Tests back and ominously declared himself to be "in the best form of my life right now".

"I am feeling in a good space and the energy is good and my body is feeling right at the moment," the right-hander explained after South Africa's second Test win over India at Centurion.

"I do have niggles but that is part of Test cricket. You never get up feeling a hundred per cent.

"The back is still there, the ankles and knees, everything is hurting at times but to be playing the ultimate form of the game again, it has been a great challenge."

De Villiers looms as a key figure for the Proteas against the Australians, whom they have not beaten on their own turf since readmission; in 20 Tests against the men in Baggy Green, he had made five hundreds and nine fifties, and averages an imposing 48.96. 

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

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