Six ap­peal – Dale Steyn ends his drought in style

‘Pha­l­aborwa Ex­press’ rides again, lead­ing the de­struc­tion as Proteas pun­ish In­dia Kingsmead score­board

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - PA­TRICK COMP­TON AND LUN­GANI ZAMA

DALE Steyn couldn’t have en­joyed be­ing knocked off his pedestal as the No 1 Test bowler in the world this week, es­pe­cially af­ter a marathon run of 186 matches. Even less would he have ap­pre­ci­ated go­ing more than 60 overs with­out tak­ing a wicket.

As if that wasn’t enough, Steyn has been up­set by harsh crit­i­cism on so­cial me­dia con­cern­ing his and Ver­non Phi­lan­der’s in­abil­ity to sign off a near mirac­u­lous win at the Wan­der­ers last week when South Africa fell eight short of a record 458-run vic­tory tar­get.

Be­fore yes­ter­day, then, it had been a mis­er­able week for the man from Pha­l­aborwa. But the best crick­eters in­vari­ably find a way to sort out their prob­lems, and yes­ter­day Steyn of­fered hope to his team, and brought this sec­ond Test to pul­sat­ing life with some hos­tile fast bowl­ing.

On Box­ing Day he’d made an un­re­mark­able start to the match with 0/49 in 16 overs, in­clud­ing an early pe­riod when he was well be­low par.

Yes­ter­day, he was forced to wait through­out the morn­ing af­ter light driz­zle de­layed play un­til 12.40pm when the northeasterly wind fi­nally ban­ished the rain­clouds and ush­ered in sun­shine and blue sky to dis­pel what had been a dis­mal scene.

With so much time lost to rain and bad light, this Test des­per­ately needed to move for­ward. Steyn duly pro­vided that turbo-boost, grab­bing his 22nd five-wicket haul in only his 69th Test. His 6/100 en­abled South Africa to peg back In­dia to a man­age­able 334 all out, to which the home team replied – in glo­ri­ous late evening light – with a breezy 82 with­out loss.

It will not have es­caped In­dia’s no­tice, how­ever, that their left-arm spin­ner, Ravin­dra Jadeja, man­aged to get some good turn in his five-over spell, caus­ing dif­fi­cul­ties for both Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen. As this pitch be­comes ever drier and dustier, Jadeja may yet play a ma­jor role in the out­come of this match.

In­dia, cruis­ing on an overnight to­tal of 181/1, had been firmly in con­trol of this match un­til Steyn burst into life.

In his first over he in­duced Mu­rali Vi­jay to edge him at catch­able height through the va­cant third slip area.

In his next over Chetesh­war Pu­jara edged him just wide of Graeme Smith’s des­per­ately flail­ing left hand as he threw him­self at the ball.

Fi­nally, suc­cess came in his third over, fol­low­ing some fe­ro­cious short-pitched de­liv­er­ies that had both bats­men duck­ing and weav­ing.

With his third ball, Steyn bowled a fuller length, the ball left Pu­jara late and found the edge, en­abling De Vil­liers to com­plete a rou­tine catch.

Steyn’s relief was pal­pa­ble and it gave him added re­serves of adrenalin as he steamed in to bowl. His sec­ond wicket shortly af­ter­wards put a cruel end to Vi­jay’s hopes of strik­ing his first Test cen­tury out­side In­dia as he gloved a lifter to De Vil­liers.

The next ball pitched out­side off stump and re­verse swung. Ro­hit Sharma shoul­dered arms and the ball neatly plucked out his mid­dle stump. He thus be­came the fourth bats­man af­ter Hashim Amla (twice) and Za­heer Khan to be dis­missed with­out at­tempt­ing a shot in this se­ries.

In­dia had slipped from 198/1 to 199/ 4 in the space of just 15 de­liv­er­ies by Steyn, and sud­denly South Africa IN­DIA first in­nings S Dhawan c Petersen b Morkel ......29 (64m, 49b, 4x4) (edged half-hearted drive at length de­liv­ery out­side off stump) M Vi­jay c De Vil­liers b Steyn ...........97 (309m, 226b, 18x4) (gloved well-di­rected lifter down leg to keeper) C Pu­jara c De Vil­liers b Steyn .........70 (233m, 132b, 9x4) (edged push to length ball that moved away late) V Kohli c De Vil­liers b Morkel .........46 (115m, 87b, 5x4) (leg-glance bril­liantly caught by div­ing wick­et­keeper) R Sharma b Steyn...........................0 (2m, 1b) (shoul­dered arms to re­verse-swing­ing de­liv­ery that knocked out mid­dle stump) A Ra­hane not out.........................51 (190m, 121b, 8x4) MS Dhoni c Smith b Steyn .............24 (58m, 40b, 3x4) (nib­bled at de­liv­ery in off-stump cor­ri­dor) R Jadeja c Kal­lis b Du­miny...............0 (5m, 3b) (edged push to slip af­ter ball turned away) Z Khan c De Vil­liers b Steyn .............0 (4m, 2b) (big waft, edged to wick­et­keeper) I Sharma c De Vil­liers b Steyn...........4 (4m, 3b, 1x4) (out­side edge to back­foot de­fen­sive push) M Shami c Smith b Morkel ..............1 (13m, 6b) (edged waft to slip) Ex­tras: (7lb, 4w, 1nb) ..............12 To­tal (all out, 111.3 overs) ....334 Falls: 1/41 (Dhawan, 13.1), 2/198 (Pu­jara, 66.3), 3/199 (Vi­jay, 68.5), 4/199 (Sharma, 68.6), 5/265 (Kohli, 92.3), 6/320 (Dhoni, 106.4), 7/321 (Jadeja, 107.5), 8/322 (Khan, 108.2), 9/330 (Sharma, 108.5), 10/334 (Shami, 111.3) Bowl­ing: Steyn 30-9-100-6 (2w), Phi­lan­der 21-6-56-0 (1nb, 1w), Morkel 23.3-6-50-3 (1w), Kal­lis 111-36-0, Peter­son 22-2-75-0 SOUTH AFRICA first In­nings G Smith not out ...........................35 (88m, 59b, 5x4) A Petersen not out .......................46 (88m, 61b, 7x4) Ex­tras: (1lb)..............................1 To­tal (for no loss, 20 overs).....82 Bowl­ing: Khan 4-0-20-0, Shami 50-23-0, Sharma 6-2-18-0, Jadeja 51-20-0 were back in busi­ness.

There was then a de­cep­tive calm be­fore the sec­ond storm, when Vi­rat Kohli and Ajinkya Ra­hane added 66 runs with­out fuss be­fore Kohli glanced Morkel and was bril­liantly caught down the leg side by De Vil­liers, who even­tu­ally took five in the in­nings. Kohli, con­tem­plat­ing his first fail­ure to reach at least a half-cen­tury in the se­ries, re­mained at the crease for a long time, per­haps un­able to be­lieve what had hap­pened to him.

Ra­hane, who struck a limpet-like un­beaten 51 in 121 balls, then fea­tured in another half-cen­tury part­ner­ship with cap­tain, MS Dhoni, be­fore South Africa pol­ished off the tail as In­dia lost their last five wick­ets for 14 runs.

Al­though Steyn’s ef­fort of­fered plenty for Proteas’ fans to cheer, it was the wicket cap­tured by part-time spin­ner JP Du­miny that brought the most joy as it of­fered Jac­ques Kal­lis the op­por­tu­nity to grasp his 200th catch in Tests, sec­ond only to Rahul Dravid.

Af­ter the big man, play­ing in his last Test, had grabbed a sharp chance div­ing to his left, he was en­gulfed by his de­lighted team­mates. To­day will of­fer him another op­portu- nity, this time with the bat, to end his ca­reer with a flour­ish.

“Some­how Dur­ban, even with all th­ese flat wick­ets they keep pre­par­ing, al­ways gives us a re­sult,” Steyn smiled last night, af­ter a stir­ring day.

“We’ve been on the re­ceiv­ing end of it a few times, and as soon as you take your foot off the pedal, you get found want­ing,” he warned.

In­dia, serene on day one, slipped up on day two, as Steyn swept up six of the visi­tors in a wel­come re­turn to the cen­tre of pro­ceed­ings, af­ter a bar­ren spell that had spanned more than 75 overs.

“I was speak­ing to Al­lan (Don­ald), and he said it was one of my bet­ter five-wicket hauls, sim­ply be­cause of how long I had gone with­out a wicket.

“I didn’t mind it, ac­tu­ally. I don’t think I have bowled that badly, to be hon­est,” he added, ex­plain­ing that his wick­et­drought was part of the game.

“I al­ways say that you need that one soft dis­missal, to get on a roll. Some­times you bowl good balls, and don’t get wick­ets. But once you get one soft wicket, you get on a roll and things start hap­pen­ing.

“I didn’t get that in Joburg, but I got one to­day, and then got a few wick­ets,” he smiled.

Steyn burst into life yes­ter­day, when play fi­nally got un­der way.

The morn­ing start had been de­layed to be­yond lunch, as morn­ing gloom turned into driz­zle, which be­came steady rain. There looked to be not much chance of play, but the weather gods soon changed their tune, and those die-hards who stuck around were re­warded with more ac­tion than the first day.

And all the while the pitch was cov­ered, it was lit­er­ally steam­ing, turn­ing into a strip that had more en­cour­age­ment for the slicker sorts. Steyn rightly feasted, gob­bling up six scalps as In­dia tum­bled from the heights of 198 for one, to 334 all out.

“It wasn’t easy for a new bats­man to come in there, be­cause Steyn was re­vers­ing it,” Vi­jay who top-scored with 97, con­ceded.

“It was dis­ap­point­ing, and we should have taken more re­spon­si­bil­ity as the top-or­der bats­men. But I thought MS (Dhoni ) and Ajinkya (Ra­hane) fought back well there in the mid­dle.”

Vi­jay ex­plained that while In­dia were slightly disap- pointed in let­ting South Africa cruise to 82 with­out loss in the elon­gated fi­nal ses­sion, they were ea­ger to have a go at re­vers­ing the ball them­selves.

Things tend to hap­pen quickly at Kingsmead, and to­day’s third day may well be piv­otal. In the midst of the power strug­gle be­tween the top two teams in Test cricket, South Africa are still try­ing to script a fairy­tale end­ing.

“Whether it means scor­ing runs quickly, or tak­ing ten wick­ets again, we will do ev­ery­thing we can to win this match for Jac­ques Kal­lis,” Steyn in­sisted.


ANOTHER ONE GONE: Dale Steyn, right, re­acts af­ter yes­ter­day dis­miss­ing In­dia bats­man Mu­rali Vi­jay, sec­ond from right, for 97 runs dur­ing the sec­ond day of theTest match at Kingsmead.


GO­ING SHORT: Ver­non Phi­lan­der is in SA Cricket’s pre­lim­i­nary squad for the T20 World Cup.

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