ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
Steyn vows to learn from India experience
January 26, 2011
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."