Not quite at full steam, Dale Steyn warms up with a three-wicket haul vs Zimbabwe

Dale Steyn made a low-key return to long-form cricket turning out for a South African XI against Zimbabwean at Boland Park. He has been named in Proteas squad for the Boxing Day Test vs Zimbabwe

cricket Updated: Dec 21, 2017 11:30 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Dale Steyn,South African cricket team,South Africa vs India
South Africa's Dale Steyn is getting ready for the four-day Test against Zimbabwe scheduled in Port Elizabeth from December 26, 2017. (AP)

Since breaking a bone in his shoulder in the Perth Test against Australia in November 2016, Dale Steyn has struggled with fitness. His return to cricket was only delayed due to surgery and muscle complications but the former world No. 1 quickie from South Africa is surely on the comeback trail.

Steyn eased back into the longest format of the game on the opening day of the three-day tour match between Zimbabwe and the SA Invitation XI at Boland Park on Wednesday.

Steyn slotted very easily back into a rhythm that belied the fact that he had been inactive for more than a year with the nine overs he sent down in two spells in the first two sessions costing just nine runs.

By his own admission he did not crank the speed gun up and kept his short ball in the locker for next week’s Test match against Zimbabwe, concentrating on bowling an immaculate line and length that saw him start his new ball spell with 18 consecutive dot deliveries.

He had a confident appeal for a catch behind the wicket to his fourth delivery to Hamilton Masakadza turned down and then had a catch dropped at backward point to his 19th delivery that resulted in the first run that he conceded.

Vernon Philander (right) and Dale Steyn have been named on the South Africa Test squad for the one-off Test vs Zimbabwe starting on Boxing Day. (HT Photo)


The important thing was that Dale Steyn came through his activity without feeling the slightest pain or niggle and he created another chance in his second spell with an inside edge by the left-handed Ryan Burls that evaded the keeper and went for the boundary that put three figures on the board.

Steyn clearly has a lot more ammunition in his tank which will no doubt be primed in the build-up to next Tuesday and the start of the pink ball Test.

“I don’t have to run in and bowl 150 consistently all day long. I’ve just got to be able to do it every now and then. The batsmen will know that it’s there, and I’m able to take their feet away, hit them in the head, whatever.

“The rest of the time I’ve always relied on skill: relentless line and length, trying to knock guys over, and just being smart. When it’s really flat then you can crank it up,” Steyn was quoted by ESPNCricinfo.

The seamers were not helped by a pink ball that went soft very quickly. There was nevertheless a lot to like about the first change seamer, Tladi Bokako, while the experienced franchise leg-spinner, Shaun von Berg, was as effective and reliable as ever.

Bowling short spells, Dale Steyn picked up three Zimbabwean wickets in a warm-up game at Boland Park on Wednesday. (Getty Images)


He captured the key wicket of Brendan Taylor and later broke the fourth-wicket stand of 65 between Masakadza and Burls when he dismissed the latter and then got rid of Sikandar Raza as well to have the excellent figures of 3/47 after 16 overs.

Masakadza provided the foundation of the Zimbabwe innings, scoring more than half the runs in the first 50 overs that saw his side reach 134/5 with 48 overs still left in the evening.

Under cover of darkness the ball started to swing and seam appreciably and Zimbabwe lost their last five wickets for 33 runs. This included Lizaad Williams taking the last three wickets in four balls with Michael Cohen and Von Berg also finishing with three wickets.

Masakadza’s 79 (181 balls, 9 fours and a six) was far and away the biggest contribution to Zimbabwe’s total of 196 all out.

It left the SA side with 24 overs to face in testing conditions. The home side lost both their openers cheaply before Temba Bavuma settled them down with the fastest scoring of the match.

(With inputs from Cricket South Africa)

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 11:20 IST