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When Dale Steyn blew Pakistan away

John McDowder
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
1.18K   //    04 Jun 2018, 12:48 IST

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One of the worlds greatest fast bowlers decimated Pakistan in a marathon spell

1st February 2013. Graeme Smith was going to become the first man to captain 100 tests in the history of world cricket. He was undoubtedly enjoying a wave of success after beating England and Australia, and now it was Pakistan's turn. While South Africa were a team in their prime, Pakistan were the familiar surprise package. There was a lot of chatter about the young Pakistani quick Junaid Khan, who was expected to make his mark on the international stage.

So on a bright and crisp morning, with a grassy pitch, Smith won the toss and bravely elected to bat. Cheeky as always, he contemplated on whether he should have protected himself as an opener, but who cares, the pitch was going to get harder to bat on anyway.

And so it began. For eighteen overs, Smith and his partner, Petersen, batted watchfully as ever, respecting Junaid Khan who was looking like the pick of the bowlers. But on the third ball of the 18th over, Junaid produced a stunning back of a length ball that Petersen tried to play on the leg side.

The ball was in the hands of third slip instead. Soon after, Smith's big day too came to an end as Umar Gul nicked him off.

A list of endless classy batsmen turned up to bat after the openers. Amla, Kallis, AB de Villiers, Du Plessis and Elgar. All of them went decently well, but none went past Kallis' 50. South Africa crawled to 253 all out at the end of Day 1, and the Pakistanis were a satisfied bunch of men.

Day 2. Another beautiful day at Johannesburg. Philander started off with a boring maiden wirelessly hanging the ball outside the off stump.

But from the other end, this was going to get nasty for the Pakistanis. Enter Dale Steyn.

The first ball was to debutant Nasir Jamshed, who pushed it to point for his first two runs in Test cricket. Nerves off. The second ball was a length delivery that came back in. Jamshed shouldered arms as the crowd oohed, realising how close that was to the off stump.

On the next one, Jamshed was tentative and took a leg bye to short fine. Nerves. On came Mohammed Hafeez. Dale Steyn provided him with a typical welcome, the ball angling in, pitching around middle and swerving away past the outside edge.

Steyn is frustrated. Why do these balls veer ever so beautifully away from the edge?

And then he bowls a "jaffa." Same ball, different result: an edge to the keeper, and Steyn sets of on a celebratory run. He could feel it. Today was going to be his day.

First ball of his next over, he sends Nasir Jamshed back into the pavilion with a huge lbw appeal. But then came Younis Khan, Pakistan's veteran batting stalwart. Four dots and Khan edged one to first slip. No relief. Pakistan were 12 for 3, and in some real trouble. Some Pakistani fans jokingly made comments the day before about their team first needing to target 54 and avoid the follow-on. They weren't joking now.

Fourteen quiet overs went past, until Kallis sent Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq back. 39 for 5. Philander came and nicked two in an over. 40 for 8.

Steyn returned and generated a catch for De Villiers at first slip. Sarfaraz Ahmed was gone. Pakistan were 41 for 9. He returned in his next over and produced an edge to fourth slip. The tail was crumpled and the chainsaw celebration emerged.

Pakistan slumped to 49 all out, their lowest score in Test history. Steyn finished with unbelievable figures of 6 for 8.

He came like the wind, and left in a hurry. Dale Steyn produced one of the greatest Test match bowling spells in the history of the game with an irritatingly accurate line outside the off stump. Even Philander would have been envious.

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John McDowder
CONTRIBUTOR
A passionate cricket writer, watcher....and player?
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