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World Cup 2011

Steyn vows to learn from India experience

Andrew Miller

January 26, 2011

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Dale Steyn appeals successfully for an lbw against M Vijay, South Africa v India, 1st ODI, Durban, January 12, 2011
Dale Steyn has cemented his reputation as the world's leading fast bowler © AFP
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Players/Officials: Imran Tahir | Dale Steyn
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: South Africa

Dale Steyn believes that South Africa's hard-fought series victory over India has taught the side valuable lessons ahead of the World Cup, after they battled back from a 2-1 deficit to seal the rubber with victories in the final two matches at Port Elizabeth and Centurion. Even at 119 for 8, chasing 269 for victory in the decider, India refused to yield, with Yusuf Pathan lighting up the closing overs of the contest with a blistering 105 from 70 balls.

"It was pretty tough all the way through," Steyn told ESPNcricinfo's Switch Hit podcast. "When you're playing against a team like India you're always going to struggle, especially as they bat all the way down the order to No. 9 and 10. They are a good side, and a great knock by Yusuf nearly turned it for them, but our fight showed through in the last ODI. We showed we wanted it more that day."

South Africa play India in the group stages of the World Cup at Nagpur on March 12, and Steyn now knows that a player of Yusuf's class will be hard to contain if he is allowed to get going in that contest. "He smokes the ball, even his mis-hits were going for six," he said. "It was one of those knocks you have to sit back and say well played, because there wasn't much more we could do.

"We felt we had the game in control until then, but every time he hit the ball it went for six," he added. "It was a good knock from Zaheer [Khan] as well, but there were some valuable lessons learned for the World Cup, and we can take the experience from a game like that and learn from it if it happens again in the World Cup."

On a personal note, the series win wrapped up an impressive season's work for Steyn, who has cemented his reputation as the world's leading fast bowler with a series of searing performances. "I'm bowling nicely but I hope that I can bowl better," he said. "I never want to restrict myself and say I'm at my ultimate peak, I'm always looking to take myself to a higher level. But things have been going nicely, and I've been backed nicely by guys like Lopsy [Tsotsobe] and Morne [Morkel]. When they are bowling well, I can basically play second fiddle and it takes pressure off my shoulders."

South Africa's World Cup 15 was announced last week, and in the opinion of the captain, Graeme Smith, it is an unpredictable line-up, with a host of players - Steyn included - who have never yet taken part in a 50-over World Cup. "It is a new thing, and we are looking forward to it," said Steyn. "We're going to ride the wave that we've had against one of the best teams in the world, and we are very excited. There are a lot of new guys, and a new energy, and the atmosphere is fantastic."

One of those new faces is the Pakistan-born legspinner, Imran Tahir, who was kept hidden during the India series, but could well prove to be a trump card come the start of the tournament. "He's a good bowler, and most of the guys on the county circuit and at domestic level in South Africa have realised that," said Steyn. "I played with him at the Titans but hardly ever alongside him, but when I batted against him he got me out about 14 times in 10 minutes. I'm not saying I'm the world's best batsman, but I was bamboozled all the time. So he's looking forward to his opportunity."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 12 
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Posted by Jaymin on (January 27, 2011, 5:14 GMT)

Piece of crap. Steyn is going to be murdered on Indian pitches by the Indian batsmen. They are on a high because they were playing on grassy wickets and even then struggled to beat the Indians (who were playing without a lot of key players). Come the WC, Steyn is going to look ordinary again at the hands of the mighty Indians and Tahir is going to look like a joke.

Posted by mahjut on (January 27, 2011, 0:00 GMT)

Geo Tf without Tendulkar India would've probably not won a match. or without Bhajji or without Morkel or without...Quazar, I don't believe the words were in jest unfortunately - people like to use opinions dictated to them by cricket journos...and if SA don't win it'll be further proof that they're chokers, it doesn't matter a jot that the chances of them winning are very slim (basically, if you can propagate a myth that someone is bad, it may go unnoticed how equally bad you are)...SA will be an absolute surprise semi finalist imo but, like Santosh, I look forward to the May encounter between SA/Ind - I enjoyed every bit of the ind/s series despite being attached to neither. I even enjoyed some interactions with both fans on these boards... I'm quite interested to see how Steyn goes both in the subcontinent (nowhere if the pitches resemble UAE) and in death overs (this does need improvement) g'luck all at WC

Posted by mahjut on (January 26, 2011, 23:41 GMT)

SA are less likely than ever before to go far. They've always gone far because they've always been good. They've never won 'cos they've never been the best team at a WC - even on paper. if they go far now it will be a surprise rather than an expectation...most of their players are Test players. I agree that Tahir is getting some serious hype - hope he copes, which he may as he's not exactly a kid! As for 'the chokers'? well, i said it on another thread: #2 ODI team in the world (India) couldn't beat #4 side (SA) that has not been doing all that well at home for a few years and on "stopping", "subcontinental-like" pitches (without Kallis)...not just couldn't beat, but lost a 2-1 lead and ultimately BOTH crucial matches...Dhoni tried to use the 'choking' stick after the 4th ODI when he told the press that the team which handles the pressure better will win the 5th, deciding, ODI. Well, using Yusuf's knock under ZERO pressure vs an attack whose job was done, is a smokescreen- INDIA CHOKED

Posted by 101 on (January 26, 2011, 21:05 GMT)

He is a great bowler lets respect him, wish him a good carrer

Posted by Meera on (January 26, 2011, 19:11 GMT)

They struggled to win in their own backyard, which says a lot about the team's current standing and India did not have sachin, viru and gambhir.. As for Imran Tahir, there was another spinner from SA named Paul Adams who was also hidden for obvious reasons. even he didn't know where or what he was bowling. SA have a few good batsmen and bowlers, as does every other team. India, and SL are firm favorites because of home conditions. every other team it depends on how quickly they adapt.

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 26, 2011, 16:16 GMT)


Posted by Dummy4 on (January 26, 2011, 15:34 GMT)

Well played Proteas, and an equally impressive perofrmance by Steyn. Eagerly waiting for another encounter on March 12th. May the better team win the game, although I personally prefer India doing well in that game. Good luck Proteas for the WC campaign.

Posted by Bheem on (January 26, 2011, 14:29 GMT)

SA already had 2 genuine wicket-takers in Steyn and Morkel...if Imran Tahir lives up to his billing, SA's attack could turn out to be the most dangerous in the tournament. (@Ajay...your words...even if in jest...could come back to haunt you)

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 26, 2011, 13:23 GMT)

@Steyn - Without you , SA could have struggled to keep test series alive. Same applies to Zaheer khan

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 26, 2011, 13:14 GMT)

He is a good aggressive bowler but have to say he has to improve his death bowling.Same with Morkel as well.They can take wickets in early and middle overs but there is a question mark on their delivering yorkers.Parnell was exceptional in the 2009 T-20 WC but has lost his form.But they are not doing any favour to the Pakistani born Imran Tahir by hyping him.

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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