Proteas

Dale Steyn back with a bang on Test return!

Dale Steyn (Gallo)
Dale Steyn (Gallo)

Cape Town - The buzz in the Newlands air as the Proteas took the field late on Friday was unmissable, and most of it had to do with Dale Steyn

The 34-year-old has had a long road to recovery since injuring his shoulder back in November 2016, and many believed that he had reached the end of the road on the international stage. 

Yet Steyn continued to work hard, adamant that he wanted to play Test cricket for the Proteas again, and on Friday he got his chance as the Proteas bowlers dominated India on day one of the first Test in Cape Town.

The road ahead is still a long one, and Steyn will have to bowl many more high-intensity overs before he convinces anyone that is at his best, but he is at least back. 

Steyn got through four overs as the day drew to a close but, more importantly, he picked up his 418th Test wicket and is now just four away from becoming his country's all-time leading wicket-taker in the format. 

Vernon Philander had just struck for the Proteas, getting rid of Murali Vijay, but Steyn would have his moment in the very next over. 

The 'Phalaborwa Express' dug it in relatively short, and Shikhar Dhawan went on the pull. 

The Indian left-hander got nowhere near connecting, and the ball went straight up as Steyn readied himself to take the catch off his own bowling. 

He did so comfortably and, as Newlands celebrated with him, the reaction of the Proteas players who swamped Steyn showed just how much this wicket meant. 

It was a moment that Proteas batting coach Dale Benkenstein believes is exactly the boost Steyn needed as he continues his comeback.

"That one wicket will do the world of good for him," Benkenstein said.

"I think he bowled beautifully. His pace was up there with what he normally bowls with the new ball.

"To get him into the series straight away, from a mental point of view, that was a massive four overs that he bowled. It’ll be a massive benefit for is."

Benkenstein, who praised the work national coach Ottis Gibson had done with Steyn, acknowledged that the road to the first team had not been easy.

"He hasn’t bowled for so long so every time he bowled there was a little niggle here and there and then you lose a bit of confidence," he said.

"As a bowler he’s not exactly in the youth of his career. These last three or four days, he’s been outstanding and from what you’ve seen out there, he’s nearly back to his best.

"He is a huge weapon for South African cricket."

India will resume on day two at 28/3 in their first innings, still 258 runs behind the Proteas.

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