Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday expressed his empathy with South Africa’s Dale Steyn as the pacer was ruled out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 tournament due to a shoulder injury. Labeling Steyn as his good friend, Kohli wished him a speedy recovery and also revealed that he was in a great mental space heading into the World Cup tournament.

Steyn had picked up the shoulder injury during his time with Royal Challengers Bangalore in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL). After arriving in the UK, the veteran pacer suffered a reoccurrence of his shoulder injury and also missed South Africa’s opener against England and on their second outing against Bangladesh.

Speaking to the presser ahead of India’s opening clash against the Proteas, Kohli said: “I feel really bad for Dale. He looked really happy. He was bowling really well and then suddenly we found out that he was not going to be able to continue. I feel bad for him because he has been a friend for a very long time.

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“He is a motivated guy. He has been very happy to come back and play for South Africa. He has been doing very well. He still has the hunger and passion, but those niggles and injuries are just not going his way. I can understand his frustration about those injuries. I wish him a speedy recovery.

“He was looking in a great mental space, enjoying his cricket, bowling really well. I can understand how he must be feeling and I am feeling bad for him.”

South African skipper Faf du Plessis blamed the pacer’s decision of participating in the IPL for the injury.

“Unfortunately, it happened there in the IPL in those two games that he played there. If he didn’t get picked up to go to the IPL, who knows where Dale would have been right now,” du Plessis said.

South Africa will be lacking some firepower when they take to the field against India in match eight of the tournament at Southampton’s Rose Bowl stadium on Wednesday as pacer Lungi Ngidi and top-order batsman Hashim Amla have also sustained injuries.