Abu Dhabi: Dale Steyn, who has returned for South Africa after a long injury layoff, made an instant impact for South Africa in the third One-Day International on Wednesday.
Though Steyn took just one wicket, his fiery first over took the wind out of the sails of the Pakistan batsmen. Ahmad Shehzad was tearing the South African bowlers apart until then and Pakistan had 50 on board in the eighth over. Once Steyn got rid of Shehzad in his second over, Pakistan’s batting line just fell apart.
Understandably, South Africa skipper AB de Villiers was full of praise for his strike bowler.
“Steyn is a world-class bowler and we all know about it. For me, the main thing is he creates a lot of intensity not just for the bowling attack, but in the whole unit,” said De Villiers.
“Steyn’s ability to create intensity is one major quality about him and obviously he has a lot of skill all the formats he plays in. Once again, he brought that intensity into the team and the other bowlers followed him,” De Villiers added.
Other South African bowlers followed suit with a completely different demeanour after that. Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe all got among the wickets and Pakistan slipped from 86 for 2 to 117 for 7; eventually losing by 68 runs.
“We did our basics extremely well today. We’re till not where we want to be, as I thought we could have got to 280. There was probably a lull throughout the innings. Still, the batters did well and few guys put their heads up, including Faf du Plessis,” said De Villiers, who was happy that his team made sure they compete well this time round.
“We have been guilty at times of not competing in games and that’s what probably for me as a captain is the worst feeling. If we play solid cricket as we did in the third ODI, with the basics in place — bat, ball and on the field — we will compete better.”
Du Plessis also heaved a huge sigh of relief after getting among the runs with a 50 — his first in 12 innings. “I just said in a TV interview later that I was feeling 50 kilos lighter. Obviously I was under massive pressure. As an international cricketer, I might actually produce some goods and I haven’t done that for a while. It was nice to put up a good performance here,” said Du Plessis, adding that the key to his knock was he going into good positions.
“You need to get into better positions when you are looking to play the ball more attackingly. That’s something that I learnt from today. When you are under pressure, you normally keep it to yourself and go into a shell.”