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Steyn is determined to ensure that this year’s series does not end as a draw
India’s tour of South Africa in December this year is already proving to be a highly-anticipated series between two of the best Test nations around at the moment, but Proteas pace spearhead Dale Steyn believes his side should be able to defeat the Indians without any major problems, given the fact that India tend to struggle in foreign conditions.
India are scheduled to play three Tests against South Africa, who are currently atop the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test team rankings and have been there since defeating England in August last year.
“We have got a pretty good Test side at the moment, to be fair, and we play quite well at home,” Steyn said. “I would like to say that we would win it. Coming to South Africa, it is a difficult place to play cricket.
“Wickets here are lot flatter than what it is in South Africa. It does make it a little bit difficult for the Indian batsmen.
“However, cricket is a funny game and India has got some fantastic players. Shikhar Dhawan is batting nicely and they have got some great players. We will wait for the next couple of months and see what happens.”
The last time these two Test behemoths locked horns with each other, the series ended as a 1-1 draw and Steyn is determined to ensure that one side emerges victorious this time around.
While India may seem to struggle in foreign conditions, Steyn noted that veteran batsman Sachin Tendulkar is by far one of the hardest batsmen to bowl to in Test cricket.
“There was a time in Nagpur (2009-10 Test series) and I was bowling to Sachin, it felt like when I was bowling to all the other batters, I was going past the bat and finding the edge, I was bamboozling them with in-swing and away-swing,” Steyn recalled. “But Sachin knew exactly what I was going to bowl before I even started running. He had me covered. He did his homework on me and he knew exactly what was coming. There is no worse feeling in knowing that whatever I threw at him, he had the arsenal to combat. That was quite difficult.”
Speaking about coach Gary Kirsten, who recently decided not to renew his contract with Cricket South Africa (CSA), Steyn admitted that Kirsten’s decision had not come as a shock to him at all.
“I thought it was always coming,” Steyn said. “Gary is a massive family man, he loves his family. When we were in Australia and we had a 10-day off (break) he jumped on a plane and flew home for three days to be with his family. (His) Stepping down as the T20 coach and allowing Russell Domingo to take over, it was tell tale signs that something was coming.
“I completely understand from where it is coming. I have spent almost 220 days of a year every year for the last five years (playing cricket). That what my life has been. I feel like I want to retire from cricket right now and he has been in this game since God knows. Hopefully he can finish his career with South Africa winning a trophy. That would be fantastic.”
Steyn stated that he was looking forward to working with Russell Domingo, who is currently Kirsten’s assistant coach till August, upon where he will make history by becoming the first coloured coach of South African since the country’s readmission into international cricket 22 years ago.
“I think he is going to be great,” Steyn said. “He was in the shadow of Gary. Russell did a lot of work behind the scenes whilst Gary was the head coach. I think it is Russell’s turn now to stand up. He is a great coach and he is going to show people what he is capable of.”
Steyn is well known for his aggression while bowling and he believes it is the one trait every pace bowler should have in them.
“I love the theatre of cricket,” he said. “When I was growing up watching someone like Shane Warne bowl was one of the most entertaining things. If he bowled a bad ball and the batsman hit it for four he would react as if he had planned it.
“As a fast bowler I have got a role. I have got to be menacing, aggressive and have to be pretty much your worst enemy. Because nobody wants to play against teddy bear, let’s be honest about that. That makes it too easy. People watching the game want to see this, the same way you want a guy to hit a six. Nobody wants to see someone block a ball, that is too boring. My job is to look like a nasty ugly person.”
Instead of relying on bouncers like many other pace bowlers do when searching for a wicket, Steyn revealed that the secret behind his success lies in the speed of his bowling.
“I don’t think I get that much bounce,” Steyn admitted. “Morne Morkel gets a lot of bounce. Morne’s bouncer will go flying over the batsman’s head. I am not really tall. Because I am short and I am skiddy, the batsmen don’t know whether to pull it or to duck so they are caught in two minds.
“With my height, I don’t necessarily get that much bounce, but I kind of rush batsmen a lot more. I hit the crease, almost like a (Lasith) Malinga, so it kind of rushes in faster. I wasn’t blessed with the height but I have used what I have got to my advantages.”
Having represented the Sunrisers Hyderabad during this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), Steyn pointed out that it was becoming increasingly difficult to bowl on sub-continent wickets.
“If I have a choice I would love to bowl in a wicket that is green everyday but that is not going to happen,” he said. “You have got to bowl in some of the worst conditions in the world to appreciate good wicket.
“If you can bowl in the most difficult pitches in the world which is generally the sub-continent nations India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka…they are very difficult to bowl on. They are flat and there is no movement off the deck. When you get to South Africa or Australia there is a bit more lateral movement off the pitch and you tend to get rewarded with wickets.”