Ian Baker - Full Steyn ahead for South Africa
11 Feb 2010 - 09:19:51
South Africa won just one Test match in 2009. Just 40 days into 2010 and they have already doubled that number of victories.
But the incredible innings and six-run victory over India in the first Test in Nagpur takes an extra significance.
India, the world's No.1 Test side according to the rankings, were expected to have the upper hand on their slow wickets.
They are regarded as flat-track bullies, a side so dominant at home they will always be there or thereabouts as far as the rankings are concerned.
The margin of the win was extraordinary. When Graeme Smith declared on 558-6, it looked as though another Indian Test would grind to a halt.
But South Africa have a young emerging side, with the irresistible Dale Steyn helping turn around their fortunes.
The 26-year-old from Phalaborwa is showing signs of becoming one of the greatest bowlers that has ever lived.
Injury impacted him early on in the series with England in South Africa. But he has responded in stunning style, fully justifying his status as the world's best Test bowler.
Steyn bowled quite magnificently without success in Cape Town as England clung on to a draw.
His spell with the new ball to Paul Collingwood was certainly one of the best I've ever seen. He was unplayable, just like Allan Donald was in his prime.
Steyn's luck changed in Johannesburg and together with Morne Morkel (seven wickets a piece) helped his side to an emphatic win.
Batsmen are simply unable to deal with reverse swing at such express pace - whatever the conditions.
Steyn's amazing 7-51 in the first innings at Nagpur ensured India collapsed from 192-3 to 233 all out.
Such a clattering of wickets in unheard of in India - particularly from pacemen and the world really needs to take note of such a performance.
Steyn's spell all but won his side the match, and the Proteas were ruthless in wrapping up the innings win with the quick picking up three more wickets to finish with 10 in the match.
South Africa probably lack the strength in depth but with the likes of Steyn, Morkel and Hashim Amla (whose 253 not out I have not even mentioned until now), they certainly have the quality to ensure that is not necessary.
India seem to have become complacent at home and such a heavy loss will surely come as a big wake-up call.
South Africa, minus the resigned coach Mickey Arthur, can at last put their problems behind them.
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