The “Steyn-gun” has officially hung up his boots. When it comes to fast bowling in the current era, Dale Steyn will go down in history as one of the all-time greats. Steyn’s 699 international wickets made him stand out in an era dominated by batsmen. With 439 wickets at an absurdly low average of 22.95 and a phenomenal strike rate of 42.30, Dale Steyn exits as South Africa’s most wicket-taker in Tests. Steyn was the bowler nobody wanted to face at the beginning of their run-up because he was dangerous with both the new and old balls.
10/108 against India, Nagpur, February 2010 – Dale Steyn
According to current sports news cricket, pacers have always struggled to be dangerous on the Subcontinent. In general, hitters will find the pitches here more favourable. Even if wickets have been selected to make the tournament more exciting today, it was not the same a decade ago, and pacers seldom receive any help.
After winning the toss and deciding to bat in the first Test match, South Africa scored 558 runs in their first innings before declaring. This score was largely due to the efforts of cricketing legends Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis. With players Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, and MS Dhoni in the opposing batting line-up, the Proteas knew they would need to take 20 wickets to have a chance of winning in India. However, Dale Steyn had other ideas.
Murali Vijay was fooled by Steyn’s outswing-outswing-inswing ploy, and then Steyn trapped Sachin Tendulkar lbw when he was standing in his crease attempting to hit an unplayable ball. Even though Tendulkar anticipated Steyn’s takeaway attempt, Steyn double-crossed the Master by having the ball do just enough to pull it away from Tendulkar, generating the edge that the Indian great could do nothing to counteract. Steyn blew through the Indian lineup, thrashing the lower order for pure speed, and finished with 7/51 in the first innings, forcing the hosts to follow on. This was despite some resistance from Sehwag and S. Badrinath. Steyn’s quickness was crucial in the Proteas’ historic innings win, as he took the wicket of Sehwag, who had scored a century in the first innings, and two more in the second.
Dale Steyn’s finest bowling figures came not on the swinging English wickets or the bouncy Australian or South African fields, but on the lifeless Subcontinental pitches of India, where he played his last two international seasons. The grandeur of the guy is probably already clear from that.
11/60 against Pakistan, Johannesburg, Dale Steyn February 2013 –
Pakistan, after seeing their hosts South Africa knocked out for 253 in their first innings, would have been the more pleased of the two teams at this point in the series. Unfortunately, the sensation did not persist for long. It lasted exactly 3.4 overs. Steyn bowled Mohammad Hafeez out with a rocket and then smashed the rest of the lineup over the following seven overs, ending with figures of 6/8 and bowling out the visitors for 49.
Asad Shafiq and Misbah-ul- Haq’s partnership ended because of an unplayable delivery that caused Shafiq to stumble on the edge of his crease. Steyn then went on cleanup as he removed the tail, including Pakistani skipper Misbah with another jaffa that resulted in a 211-run defeat for the tourists. But it was partly because Dale Steyn was bowling at an unrelenting pace and generating unplayable deliveries one after another.
10/154 and 76 against Australia, Melbourne, December 2008
South Africa headed Down Under expecting a good showing against the hosts, but they also understood it would take a monumental effort to overcome Australia in Australia. The Proteas led the series 1-0 before flying to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test.
The youthful South African pacer started things off by sweeping Simon Katich. Then, Steyn’s impeccable line and length caused Michael Hussey to make a mistake, and his speed and precision made short work of the tail. Steyn’s 5/87 was a poor showing considering the hosts scored 394 thanks primarily to Ricky Ponting’s 101.
Steyn joined Jean-Paul Duminy at the crease with the Proteas in a precarious position after Nathan Hauritz had reduced them to 251/8. Steyn wasn’t recognized for his batting skills, but he could still compete. Now, more than ever, South Africa needs his backing Duminy.
In the end, Steyn calmed down and was a great help to Duminy, not leaving everything to the southpaw. Steyn kept the scoreboard moving and scored a career-high 76 runs, contributing to a 180-run opening-innings partnership that gave the Proteas a crucial early lead. Steyn’s 76 was a combination of smart play and patient payoff. He was able to avoid being baited into attacking by the Australians since he was aware of when to do so.
Steyn had already gone five for fifty-plus, but he wasn’t finished. With his stomach growling, Graeme Smith had no choice but to constantly chase the ball away from him.
Again in the second inning, Steyn was the primary destructor. He bowled out openers Matthew Hayden and Katich, then outran Michael Clarke with a snorter, and had Andrew Symonds clutching at an away ball. To put South Africa ahead 2-0 in the series, Steyn finished with a 10-wicket haul.
While merely Steyn’s 10th wicket, this match was his 150th wicket as a bowler in Tests. A new legend was being born before everyone’s eyes.
8/114 against India, Ahmedabad, April 2008 –
The opposition will be in trouble even before taking the field against a batting line-up of Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, and MS Dhoni. In addition, facing these veterans in their territory is the stuff of nightmares.
The home team, having chosen to bat first, likely anticipated a huge score. However, Steyn completely derailed their preparations. He was faster than Sehwag and bowled a peach that squared up Dravid and knocked off his off stump. Steyn, with the help of Makhaya Ntini, had little trouble tying up the lengthy Indian tail with a series of yorkers that were too excellent for the tailenders.
As a result of Steyn’s five-for, South Africa limited the home team to only 76 runs. Kallis’ 132 and AB de Villiers’ 217 helped the Proteas to a massive 494. Steyn was again too fast for the Indian batting order, dismissing well-set Ganguly for 87 and then picking off numbers 9 and 10. Thanks to Steyn’s 8/114, South Africa was able to pull off a historic innings triumph on the road.
The home team scored 362, with significant help from Kallis’ 161. Meanwhile, India had hoped to sneak by with a high first-innings total, thanks to Gambhir’s 93 and Tendulkar’s brilliant 146. Tendulkar knew that Steyn was bowling well and wanted to protect Gambhir from him, so the two engaged in a titanic struggle during which the batsmen didn’t score a run for over an hour.
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