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Dale Steyn's rare failures in Tests have often resulted in defeats or draws

Monday, 23 December 2013 - 8:04am IST | Agency: CricketCountry.com
Dale Steyn recorded one of his worst spells during the second innings of the first Test against India at Johannesburg. It was the first time in his career, he conceded over 100 runs and went wicket-less. In 128 innings, he has conceded over hundred runs only 14 times, a mark that reflects his consistency. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks at the Steyn-factor and the pattern during his rare failures.

Go back to the first One-Day International (ODI) earlier this month when Rohit Sharma took 16 deliveries to get bat on ball to Dale Steyn. The South African pacer welcomed the Indians with a menacing spell at Johannesburg and left them all at sea. The ball hit the turf and climbed on the batsmen, leaving them at a searing pace. Men who had dominated one-day cricket in 2013 were made to look ordinary and were struggling before him. However, a few weeks down the line, the Indian batting line-up hit back with measure and composure as they got the better of Steyn in the first Test.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli were sparkling with the bat and approached the game with good intent. They didn’t have to be positive the whole time, but had to be patient. Both batsmen like to play their strokes, but had to restrain themselves for some time. Pujara in particular was leaving almost everything outside the off-stump and was wearing the bowlers down. It was perhaps that ploy that worked against Steyn in the second innings. Although he did move it past the bat and swung it at good pace, he didn’t get wickets as the Indians batsmen were ready to play him out. They didn’t have the same luxury in the ODIs as they had to get on with things.

Consider this: This is the first time Steyn has conceded over 100 runs without taking a wicket. In total, he has conceded over 100 in an innings only 14 times. Here is a list of those spells:

Spell

Opposition

Year

Result

2/117

England

2004

Lost

1/122

England

2004

Draw

1/114

New Zealand

2006

Draw

3/129

Sri Lanka

2006

Lost

2/121

West Indies

2007

Lost

4/103

India

2008

Draw

1/117

England

2008

Draw

4/113

Australia

2009

Lost

1/115

India

2010

Lost

1/105

West Indies

2010

Draw

4/105

India

2010

Won

2/102

England

2012

Draw

1/129

Australia

2012

Draw

0/104

India

2013

-

Whenever Steyn has conceded over 100 runs, South Africa have either drawn the game or lost. The only time they won was against India in 2010, when the South African batsmen had piled the runs at Centurion, leaving the Indian batsmen with a herculean task of overhauling the total. The fact that all the other spells came in defeats and draws means that they featured in either run-fests or when the opposition dominated South Africa. But, what is remarkable is Steyn’s consistency. In 128 innings in Test cricket, he has conceded over 100 only 14 times.

In terms of the total runs conceded in a match, this is Steyn’s third worst spell. However, if you bring the wickets into consideration, then his effort in the first Test is his worst by far. Here is a list of Steyn’s most expensive match-hauls in Test cricket:

Spell

Opposition

Year

Result

5/188

West Indies

2008

Lost

7 /173

England

2008

Draw

1/165

India

2013

-

5/164

Australia

2009

Lost

5/163

Sri Lanka

2006

Lost

Steyn’s worst spells have ended in defeats and a draw. India have done well to play him with patience and see him off and that has done the trick. The result of the Johannesburg Test is still awaited and it would only require a batting miracle from South Africa to do the job.

All the records discussed above only go on to reflect the Steyn-factor. If you tame him and get the better of his bowling, chances are that you would be in a position to win the game. It not only shows his consistency but his value to the South African team. They have always had a fantastic pace battery, but Steyn stands out from their current crop. It is more about him setting the tone and leading from the front as the rest follow his lead. Come the Durban Test, expect him to bounce back because you cannot tame a lion for too long in his own den.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)


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