South Africa left out off-spinner Johan Botha, left-arm seamer Wayne Parnell and middle-order batsman JP Duminy from their Test line-up for the first match of the high-profile series against India, starting at Centurion on December 16.
Captain Graeme Smith and key batsman Hashim Amla, who are both recovering from injuries, were expectedly named in the 12-man line-up.
Botha, Parnell and Duminy, part of the original 15-man squad, have now been released to represent their respective domestic teams in the latest round of the Supersport series that begins on Thursday.
Parnell and Botha will play for the Warriors, and Duminy for the Cobras.
The decision means that there will be a toss up between Ryan McLaren and Lonwabo Tsotsobe for the third seamer's slot, while Paul Harris is a certainty in the playing XI if South Africa opt for a spinner. Duminy's exclusion ensures Ashwell Prince will keep the number six slot.
South Africa squad for first Test: Graeme Smith (capt), AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Mark Boucher (wk), Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Ryan McLaren, Paul Harris, Hashim Amla, Alviro Petersen.