February 8, 2010

Steyn Inflicts Pain Yet Again

February 08, 2010 Posted by Vijay No comments
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel sounded a warning to Australian skipper Ricky Ponting who a few days back claimed he had the best bowling attack. The pace duo wrecked India on the 3rd day of the first test against India in Nagpur. Only Sehwag could stand up to the searing pace of Steyn and Morkel. It was a true lesson in swing bowling at serious pace, especially by Steyn who claimed his best test bowling figures of 7/51. Steyn would regard it his greatest achievement yet, to have claimed a seven wicket haul on a supposedly benign Indian pitch.

Steyn was testing all the Indian batsmen with his pace and accuracy at one end, while Morkel was hitting the deck, using his height to good effect in making the Indian batsmen hop in their crease. Yet again Steyn tested the Indian batsmen with fast outswingers to the right handers, and India went in with just one left handed batsman in Gautam Gambhir in their playing eleven. Honestly, India's rise to the top of the test rankings was aided in large by Australia's dropping ratings since their series loss to South Africa on their home turf. Admittedly, India did win their home series against Australia prior to that, 2-0 in 2008. But South Africa had already begun their ascendancy by then in 2008.

It was Anil Kumble who was holding the Indian bowling high, with Zaheer Khan in sublime form. After Anil Kumble retired, post the Australia series in India, India's only notable overseas win was against a weak New Zealand team. India's bowling even then was put to the sword, and has been in constant decline. Neither does India possess express pace (which even Sri Lanka has found in Malinga), the Indian speedsters' averages are even higher than a sparingly used Kallis. While Kallis averages 31.4 in over 100 test matches, India's pace spearhead Zaheer Khan averages 33 per wicket in 70 matches. The rapidly declining Ishant Sharma averages 32.85 per wicket. Kallis was even bowling much quicker than the Indian speedsters.

India has serious problems with their pace bowling department, when one considers that these are the best in the country. Harbhajan Singh looks very low on confidence and is finding it difficult to carry on the mantle from Kumble as India's leading spinner. It was no surprise that an Indian bowling attack which was recently hammered all round the park by a depleted Sri Lankan batting found it difficult to dislodge the South African batting. Steyn continues to be among the top five best bowling strike rates of all time in test cricket, getting a wicket every 39 deliveries. While one has to scroll all the way down to the end of the all time strike rate list to find mention of Zaheer Khan amongst the current Indian crop. To retain the top test ranking spot, India needs bowlers who take 20 wickets in a test match. Not just great batsmen with averages of over 50.