AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers is back in South Africa Test squad.Reuters

Ahead of India Test series, South Africa were strengthened by the return of superstar batsman AB de Villiers, pacemen Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.

The Proteas' selectors today (December 19) named the quartet in the line-up to face Zimbabwe in the day-night Boxing Day Test, from December 26 (Tuesday), at St. George's Park, Port Elizabeth.

The 33-year-old De Villiers has not played Test cricket since January 2016 when he faced England at Centurion. Steyn was out of action for more than a year after suffering a shoulder injury in Perth last year. Morkel (side strain) and Philander (back problem) have also recovered and are back.

"It is a very exciting moment not just for South Africa but for world cricket to have Dale and AB, two icons of the game, back in the multi-day format," Cricket South Africa (CSA) National Selection Panel Convener Linda Zondi said.

"After Zimbabwe we have two very tough home Test Series coming up against India, the No. 1 ranked side in the world, and Australia, who have just regained the Ashes in their current series against England.

"AB and Dale bring loads of experience to the side apart from being two of the South African all-time greats.

"It is also good to have Vernon back and it is very encouraging that our four premium fast bowlers – Steyn, Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel – are all back in the selection mix," he added.

De Villiers, however, will miss the three-day warm-up game for SA Invitation XI against Zimbabwe due to lower back strain.

"AB de Villiers is struggling with lower back stiffness and has been withdrawn from the three-day warm-up match as a precaution. He is, however, available for selection for the Test match against Zimbabwe," commented Proteas team manager Dr. Mohammed Moosajee. 

The one-off Test between South Africa and Zimbabwe will be a historic one. This is the first-ever four-day Test, which was recently approved by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

After ending the year with this day-night contest, Faf du Plessis-led South Africa host India, captained by Virat Kohli, in a three-Test rubber starting on January 5, 2018 in Cape Town.

South Africa Test squad to face Zimbabwe: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Andile Phehlukwayo, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn.