There is so much to talk about Dale Steyn. The South African pacer has an excellent run-up, he has a fast action, he has a wonderful leap and he sends the ball in at tremendous pace at the batsman. He can get the ball to move both ways, and also has a sharp bouncer in his arsenal as well. Needless to say, when Steyn is at his best, he will send the stumps flying and make life miserable for the opposition.
And, on 23rd February 2014, Steyn blew away the Australian batting line up with unplayable reverse swing bowling. The South African pace bowling legend made the ball talk, and in a brief 5 over spell, swung the momentum completely in favour of the home side.
In the second Test at Port Elizabeth, South Africa won the toss and decided to get their willows out. With the centuries from AB de Villiers and JP Duminy, South Africa ended their first innings with a total of 423 on the board. In reply, Australia folded up for just 246 runs. Building on the massive lead of 177 runs, the hosts got to 270/5 in the second dig. Australia now had to chase down a massive target of 448 for victory.
Chris Rogers and David Warner started the Aussie chase in a scintillating fashion and added 126 runs for the first wicket. But then, the Aussies suffered a triple blow as they lost the wickets of Warner, Alex Doolan and Shaun Marsh within a span of 27 runs. And, then it was time for Steyn’s magic.
Steyn first got Aussie skipper Michael Clarke by beating him for pace. Clarke fended at it but just managed to edge the cherry to slip. The next ball was a reverse-swinging peach that made Steve Smith appear clueless. Steyn got the ball to tail in sharply into Smith, and the batsman was caught plumb in front of his stumps. Then, came another beauty from Steyn after four overs that shattered Brad Haddin’s stumps. And, within a space of half an hour, Steyn had completely changed the complexion of the match. The right-arm pacer took a total of 4 wickets in the second innings.
In the end, Australia suffered a dramatic collapse and were bowled out for just 216, handing South Africa a crushing 231 run victory. JP Duminy was awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ award for his century in the first innings. But then, Steyn’s ruthless spell of fast bowling will not be forgotten easily.