NEW DELHI - South African speedster Dale Steyn will miss the fourth and final Test against India with a lingering groin injury that has limited his participation in the four-match series to a solitary contest in the series-opener in Mohali. With the series already lost and a home series against England looming, few expected the 32-year-old to return to the squad even as his team bid for a pride-salvaging victory at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium.

"I can confirm that Dale Steyn is not going to be fit. Dale is not playing in this game," visiting captain Hashim Amla said at the pre-match news conference on Wednesday. Currently the number one test bowler, Steyn will finish the series having bowled only 11 overs, during India's first innings at Mohali.

The turning tracks in India had already taken much of the sting off the Proteas attack and Steyn's injury meant he and Morne Morkel, who missed the Mohali contest with a quad strain, never bowled in tandem in the series. The visitors were also unlucky as a third cog in their pace attack, Vernon Philander, sustained an ankle injury after the first test to be ruled out of the remainder of the series. South Africa were beaten inside three days on rank turners in Mohali and Nagpur, while India dominated whatever little play was possible in the rained-out second test in Bangalore as well. It might be too late in the series but Amla said the Proteas need to win the match at Kotla, especially before their four-test home series against England from Dec. 26.

"We got the England series very close, two weeks after we get back. It's very important for us to get back to winning ways," said Amla, who himself endured a poor series with the bat. There is no freebies in test cricket. You want to make an impact and you want to win. It's very important for us to go at least 2-1, salvage some pride from the series. We came to India almost two-and-half months ago and we had a largely successful tour in terms of winning the Twenty20 and the one-dayers. It would be nice to cap off the tour with a victory."

Kohli hits back in South Africa pitch row: Indian captain Virat Kohli hit back Wednesday at criticism of the pitches in the ongoing Test series against South Africa, saying his team deserved more credit for taming the Proteas. India go into the fourth and final Test starting Thursday in New Delhi with the series already in the bag after taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in last week's match in Nagpur.

It is the first time that South Africa, the world's number one team, have lost an overseas series in nine years and India's victories in Nagpur and in the first Test at Mohali were wrapped up within three days.

South Africa were also bowled out cheaply in the rain-hit second Test in Bangalore, which was drawn. But while the match-winning heroics of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin have been widely praised, much of the coverage has been devoted to a row over the quality of the pitches which have left batsmen floundering.

No player on either side has scored a century and the debate was further fuelled on Tuesday by news that match referee Jeff Crow had rated the pitch at Nagpur as "poor". The normally prolific Kohli is averaging only 17 in the series. But in his pre-match press conference, he said there had been too much talk about the pitch and not enough about how well his team had played. "Why are we not talking about the fact that we are 2-0 up in the series?" Kohli said. "We are criticised about our game and technique when we don't play well abroad. But when the visitors perform badly, it's always the wicket."

Kohli, 27, said he had never seen other teams being subjected to similar criticism. "Teams have been bundled out under 100 for about six times in South Africa. I have never seen any articles written on that."

The skipper played down the importance of Crowe's verdict on the Nagpur strip, which could trigger a fine or an official warning.

"It's an assessment that happens in every condition and at every ground. Unfortunately, the situation in our country is highlighted a bit too much and that's a fact," said Kohli.