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Bowling in short spells is Steyn's secret to success

Last updated on: March 15, 2011 11:13 IST

Steyn's taken six years to achieve ODI five-wicket haul

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Bikash Mohapatra

Rediff.com's Bikash Mohapatra analyses Dale Steyn's effort in the World Cup so far and believes that the South African paceman's secret of success lies in him bowling in short spells.

It took Zaheer Khan eight years and a whopping 116 games.

James Anderson took four games more for the same while Kyle Mills and Lasith Malinga took 66 and 64 games respectively.

The Australian duo of Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson had it relatively easy -- the former achieving the feat just six games after making his One-day debut while the latter took just 23 games.

Dale Steyn is somewhere in between.

The South African speedster's 5-50 against India in the World Cup Group A match in Nagpur was the first instance that the 27-year-old has had a five-wicket haul in an ODI.

It had taken him six years and 52 games to achieve the feat.

Time taken by major bowlers (contemporary) for maiden five-wicket haul

Bowler Haul No. of
games taken
James Anderson 5-23 vs SA Nov 2009 120
Zaheer Khan 5-42 vs SL in Feb 2007 116
Kyle Mills 5-25 vs SA in Nov 2007 66
Lasith Malinga 5-34 vs Pak in June 2010 64
Jacques Kallis 5-30 vs WI in Nov 1998 51
Shoaib Akhtar 5-19 vs NZ in Feb 2001 42
Tim Southee 5-33 vs Pak in Jan 2011 39
Mitchell Johnson 5-26 vs India in Oct 2007 23
Brett Lee 5-27 vs India in 2000 6

Image: Dale Steyn
Photographs: Getty Images
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'My first five overs, I didn't quite enjoy that'

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And it had come in the most unexpected of circumstances. A look at Steyn's figures after his opening three spells offered a stark contrast to his final bowling analysis.

While the 27-year-old went for 24 in his opening three overs, his re-introduction into the attack in the 10th over didn't work either -- Sachin Tendulkar pulling him over the backward square-leg for a maximum.

"My first five overs, I didn't quite enjoy that," confessed Steyn, while analyzing his effort.

The third spell was an economical one.

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However, it was his fourth spell that did the trick. Coming back to bowl in the 39th over, with India having taken the batting Powerplay, Steyn struck twice in an over -- first removing a well-settled Gautam Gambhir and then dismissing the potentially dangerous Yusuf Pathan for nought.


Image: Dale Steyn celebrates the wicket of Yusuf Pathan
Photographs: Getty Images
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Steyn's tally has risen to 10 wickets this WC

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Coming up for his fifth and final spell in the 47th over, Steyn first cleaned up Harbhajan Singh and then, in what was an unfinished final over, dismissed Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel in successive deliveries to complete what was arguably his most important day in the One-day career.

"The latter spells came out quite well," admitted Steyn.

"We didn't expect to get the last nine wickets so soon," he added, explaining the period where India collapsed from a comfortable 267 for one to 296 all out -- losing the last nine wickets for the addition of just 29 runs in only 10 overs.

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Steyn's fiver not only marked an impressive return to Jamtha -- when he last played at the venue, he had match figures of 10 for 108, helping South Africa to a memorable win -- but also bolstered his tally in the tournament to 10 wickets from just four games.


Image: Dale Steyn of South Africa celebrates winning the Man of the Match against India on Saturday
Photographs: Getty Images
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'The new-ball bowlers are struggling here'

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The fact that Graeme Smith, the South African captain, has used him in shorter spells has worked perfectly well for Steyn in this tournament.

- World Cup coverage

On pitches where batsmen are having a field day on more occasions that not, Steyn -- one of the few remnants of a dying breed (of genuine fast bowlers) -- is more than content to be hit round the park early on.

"I am not really concerned for failing to deliver in my opening spells," he said.

"It is one of those tournaments where the new-ball bowlers are struggling more often than not," he went to explain.


Image: Dale Steyn
Photographs: Getty Images
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Smith will rely on Steyn to deliver the goods regularly

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The quick, on the other hand, is willing to bide by his time -- perhaps realizing that patience is the lone virtue that helps a bowler succeed on the subcontinent wickets.

"I am more than happy to bowl well in the second spell and that seems to be working for me," explained Steyn.

If South Africa is to go the distance in the tournament, Smith will rely on Steyn to deliver the goods on a regular basis. And looking at the way things have gone thus far, the fast bowler, it seems, won't disappoint his captain.


Image: Dale Steyn (right) at a training session
Photographs: Getty Images
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