Nagpur, March 12: His love affair with Nagpur's Vidarbha's Cricket Association Stadium continues to play out to the rapturous applause of his team-mates and fans back home. The man that rocked the Indian batting line-up in a Test match at this venue last Feb last year with a match-winning 10/108, was at his destructive best again on the same surface. Indeed, with his 5/50 against India in South Africa's World Cup match on Saturday, March 12, 2011, which effectively turned the game upside down, Dale Steyn emerged the undeniable hero at Nagpur.
And it didn't seem like peaches and cream straight away in Saturday's game. Initially, he was bolted by a bludgeoning Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag to all corners of the park, going wicketless for 38 in his first 5 overs. But then as all heroes do, he stole a march on his opponents and effected a stunning riposte by knocking back 5 prize Indian wickets in just 4.4 overs and conceding a mere dozen more runs in the process. How did he manage to follow up an economy of nearly 8 runs an over, with something of less than three? India's irresponsible batting must most certainly have played a part in his success, not to take anything away from his accomplishment.
But it must be conceded that he was indeed the architect of the Indian slide, first striking in the 40th over to remove a well-set Gautam Gambhir who was looking to get a move on, but only succeeded in slapping Steyn into the pouch of mid-off. Gambhir had been looking to back away past leg when Dale spotted the movement early and followed him, thus forcing the error.
Then later in the same over, the dangerous Yusuf Pathan who has previously made the Proteas sweat, gasp and grovel with his belligerent hitting, only managed to clip Steyn to the man at cover and his looming presence was annihilated for a duck. Following that, Steyn employed the fast bowler's favourite trick of the trade, but one very difficult to pull off - the in-swinging yorker. This was the weapon that shattered Harbhajan Singh's stumps.
In the 48th over, which turned out to be India's last, Steyn bowled up and full, inducing an unsuspecting Nehra to slap him straight into the hands of cover and finally, he polished off the Indian tail when he cleaned up Munaf Patel with another deadly yorker. Indeed, it was sheer "Steyn power" from the man who kept India to less than 300. Indian fans, as sore as they might be from their side's loss, will have to take their hats off to this man.