Steyn's venom, Johnson's redemption
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Dale Steyn 7 for 51 v India
first Test, Nagpur
Steyn took the docile pitch, on which South Africa amassed 558, out of the equation with a devastating spell of seam and swing bowling to bowl out India for 233. He got two wickets with the new ball and returned post tea to produce a memorable spell that read: 3.4-2-3-5 with the old ball. Four of his victims were bowled - two batsmen had shouldered arms, clueless about the late reverse-swing and one was trapped lbw. South Africa enforced the follow-on and went on to win. Steyn later credited his seven-wicket haul to a ball change - the seam had split and the ball was changed just before tea.
Mitchell Johnson 6 for 38 v England
third Test, Perth
The context made this performance even more special. Johnson was dropped for the second Test and was the last bowler that his captain turned to in this Test. In a spell that read 9-3-20-4, he got the ball to swing back in with a slightly round-armish action to dismiss Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, and Paul Collingwood. He returned to polish off the tail to record his second-best Test figures. Australia rode on Johnson's inspired spell to win the game, and Ricky Ponting later said it was one of the all-time best Ashes spells.
Mohammad Asif 6 for 41 v Australia
second Test, Sydney
Mohammad Sami had bruised Australia with a three-wicket burst, which included the wickets of Ponting and Shane Watson, with the new ball before Asif imposed himself. In the period leading up to the tea, he removed Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Marcus North and Brad Haddin. He returned later to knock out the tail to finish with the career-best figures as Australia were rolled out inside 45 overs.
Morne Morkel 5 for 20 v India
first Test, Centurion
second Test, Napier
Dale Steyn caught the big fishes, Virender Sehwag , VVS Laxman, and Sachin Tendulkar, before Morne rattled the middle and the lower order to bowl out India for 136 on the first day of Test series. Morne hustled and bruised the Indians with his bounce from short of a length and slipped in the fuller ones to get his men - Suresh Raina, Rahul Dravid, and MS Dhoni.
James Anderson 6 for 17 v Pakistan
first Test, Nottingham
Pakistan started their second innings on the fourth day at 15 for 3, and Anderson needed less than a session to bowl England to a 354-run victory. Anderson swung the ball both ways to claim his first ten-wicket match haul after his 5 for 54 in the first innings. He swung out Imran Farhat and Umar Akmal to trigger a stunning collapse.
Mohammad Amir 5 for 52 v England
third Test, The Oval
Amir had knocked out Andrew Strauss early in the second innings but England recovered to reach 194 for 4 and looked set to pose a stiff target when they were undone against some classy reverse-swing bowling. Amir had Jonathan Trott and Paul Collingwood edging their cuts and induced Matt Prior to edge a reverse-swinging delivery from round the stumps. Pakistan went on to register their only Test win of the series.
Wahab Riaz 5 for 63 v England
third Test, The Oval
Though Amir might have done the job in the second innings, it was the debutant Riaz who set up the win with a five-wicket haul in the first innings. With his skiddy pace delivered from a slingy action, he knocked out Strauss, Trott and Pietersen before lunch on the opening day before adding Eoin Morgan and Stuart Broad to his tally. He knocked out the top order to leave England tottering at 74 for 6 before Prior and Broad added 119 runs. Riaz then returned to take out Broad.
Lasith Malinga 5 for 50 v India
first Test, Galle
India were following on on the fourth day and had seemingly recovered from a poor start, courtesy a 119-run partnership between Tendulkar and Dravid, when Malinga, who had earlier knocked out Gambhir, got into the act. He had Dravid flicking to leg gully and then yorked Tendulkar with a slinging thunderbolt. Next morning, he produced another reverse-swinging beauty that curved away from the leg stump line to york MS Dhoni.
Dale Steyn 6 for 50 v India
second Test, Durban
On a bouncy track, Steyn waylaid the Indians with his controlled swing bowling. India had got through the first hour without damage but Steyn's curving outswingers sealed their fate soon. He removed Sehwag, M Vijay and Dravid behind the wicket in quick succession and returned later to dismiss VVS Laxman, out to a stunning catch by Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Harbhajan Singh and Dhoni. India slipped from 43 for 0 to be bowled out for 205.
James Anderson 4 for 51 v Australia
second Test, Adelaide
Anderson reduced Australia to 3 for 2 in the third over, their worst start to a Test innings in 60 years. He angled one in before curving it out to remove Ponting and produced a snorter to have Michael Clarke stabbing to second slip. He returned later to end a promising innings from Shane Watson with an outswinger. England went on to win the Test and get ahead in the series after the deadlock in the first Test.
Harbhajan Singh 5 for 59 v South Africa
second Test, Kolkata
Hashim Amla proved unremovable but Harbhajan found a way around him to bowl India to a thrilling series-levelling win. India had 98 overs to get seven wickets on the final day but Amla faced 52.2 of them. In his second spell, six overs each either side of lunch, Harbhajan looked menacing with almost every delivery. He lured Ashwell Prince to lob to mid-off, trapped JP Duminy and Steyn in front, but Amla fought on with the tail. With only nine mandatory balls to go, Harbhajan trapped Morne Morkel, who had put together a 76-minute last-wicket stand with Amla, with a slider, to trigger celebrations.
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Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo