Fiery fast bowler Dale Steyn on Tuesday insisted pace will be the key to South Africa’s success in the Test series against India despite the slow pitches.
The Indian team management wants dry pitches that favour its spinners for the four-match series which opens in the northern town of Mohali on Thursday.
But Steyn, one of the more lethal fast bowlers in modern cricket with 402 wickets from 80 Tests, said the tourists will still rely on him and the other pacemen in the side to deliver victory.
“We will rely heavily on the quicks and every bowler knows what they need to do,” the 32-year-old said yesterday. “We have some good spinners and everybody fills in to get 20 wickets between us.”
Steyn has enjoyed good success during the five Tests he has played on Indian soil, claiming 26 wickets at an average of 20.23.
His best career figures of 7-51 came against India during the Nagpur Test in 2010 and helped South Africa thrash the hosts by an innings and six runs.
Steyn also claimed 5-23 and 3-91 in Ahmedabad in 2008 to fashion his team’s huge win by an innings and 90 runs.
He will again be expected to lead a strong pace attack that includes Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and young Kagiso Rabada.
Steyn said the secret to doing well on slow pitches was to generate speed in the air rather than rely on movement off the surface.
Dale Steyn may be better than James Anderson but they are both considerably better than the next best fast bowler of this era. #PakvEng
— Freddie Wilde (@fwildecricket) November 3, 2015
“I think pace through the air is really important,” he said. “With the wickets here on the slow side, batsmen are able to adjust to medium-pace bowling when it hits the deck.
“But sheer pace can push batsmen because it gives them a lot less time to adjust. And you have also to land the new ball in the right areas.
“It is really tough, I am not going to lie about that. But I love bowling in India,” said Steyn, who turns out regularly in the Indian Premier League.
He believes his top-ranked side will not start as favourites in the series despite winning both the preceding Twenty20 and one-day contests.
“I don’t think we are the favourites,” he said. “We are playing in India’s back garden and it is going to be extremely difficult.
“But we come into the series with a lot of confidence and expectations of winning. We have come up with some good game plans. We are up for the challenge, that’s for sure.”
South Africa, who have not lost a Test series away from home since 2006, last won a series in India in 2000.
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The hosts clawed their way back into the game on day three.
It was Mohammad Hafeez, who proved his mettle with a sterling innings.
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James Taylor admitted England’s ‘massive frustration’ at the DRS ruling which allowed Mohammad Hafeez to hit another 95 telling runs against them in the third Test.
Hafeez was initially given out caught-behind off James Anderson, only for third umpire Paul Reiffel to overturn the verdict.
Regular audio and visual aids ‘Snicko’ and ‘Hotspot’ are not available in this series, but there was still enough evidence for the decision to be changed.
Taylor described Hafeez’s rep-rieve on two as a “huge moment in the game”. It was one too which brought a spicy exchange between some of England’s agitated players and Pakistan’s cheeky 12th man Mohammad Rizwan.
As the decision was relayed from the third umpire, reserve wicketkeeper-batsman Rizwan – bringing out drinks during the break in play – goaded the opposition by crossing his arms to mimic the umpiring gesture which precedes a revised decision.
Taylor said: “It was massively frustrating, obviously a massive wicket. You can see that in the context of the game now – he’s on 97 not out – so obviously a huge mom-ent in the game.
“But personally, I can’t say I spend too long at night thinking about DRS.”
For that reason, he offered no opinion on the secondary, and final, decision-making progress – but made it plain he thought the first call was the correct one.
“Yes, I did –and I think all the guys behind the stumps did as well,” Taylor added. “Obviously, the ump-ire did – that’s why he put his finger up. But the third umpire has a job to do, and he made his decision.”
Rizwan’s party piece did not help England’s mood – but Taylor was diplomatic in his own recollections.
“I think we were frustrated he was smiling a little bit too much for our liking,” he said.