Steyn's burst forces India to follow-on
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur
Scorecard:India v South Africa
Player:S Badrinath, DW Steyn, V Sehwag
Event:South Africa in India 2009/10

DateLine: 8th February 2010


The Indian top and the lower order found Dale Steyn too hot to handle as the paceman ripped apart a fragile Indian batting line-up with a fiery burst. Steyn was well-supported by Morkel who was unlucky to snap just one wicket though he too was handful for the Indian batsmen. Had it not being for Sehwag's sensible 109 and Badrinath' composed 56 the Indian first innings scorecard would have been a disaster. Still the Indian side were unable to prevent the follow-on as they collapsed in a heap for just 223. At stumps following on India made 66 for 2 with Murali Vijay (27 batting, 68 balls, 4x4) and Tendulkar (15 batting, 48 balls, 2x4) at the crease.


Starting the day at 25 for no loss Sehwag got the Indian innings off the blocks with a scorching square cut of Steyn but his partner Gambhir did not survive long. Gambhir (12, 15 balls, 2x4) failed to add anything to his overnight score as he got an unplayable ball from Morkel first up. Morkel got one to pitch perfectly at good length swerving first into Gambhir but straightened just a bit to take the outside edge of an immobile Gambhir through to Boucher. That was the cue for the Proteas as pacers Steyn and Morkel began a torrid examination of Indian batsmen. Steyn then proceeded to set-up Murali Vijay (4, 13 balls, 1x4) with a couple of out-swingers before slipping in an off-cutter which the batsman horrendously misjudged and shouldered his arms only to see his off-stump clattered.


The battle between Steyn and Tendulkar was something to behold. Steyn not overawed by Tendulkar's stature began another set-up procedure. Steyn repeatedly baited Tendulkar with some well-pitched out-swingers and Tendulkar was happy to just let it go. When the bowler pitched one fuller and close to the bat Tendulkar unfurled a glorious cover-drive but Steyn was unfazed and he shortened the length a foot shorter with some out-swing added to it which Tendulkar feathered one through to Boucher and India were three down for 56.


With the hosts tottering though it was not a situation that a debutant would have relished but with limited chances on offer Badrinath needed to snatch the chance with both hands. The Tamil Nadu Ranji giant got off the mark with a streaky boundary through slips but then quickly settled down. Sehwag on the other hand was cautious against Steyn and Morkel but once the support bowlers came on he began to open up. The Delhi opener blended caution with aggression very well and soon he was motoring along. The pair of Sehwag and Badrinath slowly neutralized the South African advantage to some extent as they ensured that India went to lunch without losing any more wickets.


After lunch Sehwag began went into the attack mode as he began to open up. In no time Sehwag entered the nineties before a cat and mouse game began between himself and Paul Harris. Sehwag had raced to 98 when Smith brought on Harris who began to bowl from round the wicket into the rough. Sehwag tried to counter his ploy by trying to reverse sweep once but failed to make any contact. Sehwag was tied down for 15 balls from Harris before the former got to his 18th Test century. Sehwag then tried to muscle his way through getting a couple of boundaries of Parnell before holing out into the deep for 109 off 139 balls with 16 hits to the fence. The pair had added 136 runs in 32.3 overs with Sehwag being th dominator.


Badrinath, who was joined at the crease by Dhoni, was a picture of calm and composure as he got to his maiden Test half century. He was hit on the body a couple of times by Steyn but the debutant held his ground firmly and supported Sehwag during the crucial partnership. He got his half century via a fluent cover-drive of Morkel and his high level of confidence was shown as he skipped down the track to lift Duminy over midwicket in the last ball before tea.


But after tea Steyn single-handedly simply dismantled the Indian lower order with some sensational piece of furious fast bowling. The slide began when Harris got one to get big on Dhoni (6, 29 balls, 1x4) and the ball kissed the gloves en-route to Kallis at slips. From then on Steyn's thunderbolts decimated the Indian lower order as Saha (0, 3 balls) misjudged an in-swinger from Steyn and found his stumps all over the place. Zaheer Khan (2, 8 balls) and Amit Mishra (0, 9 balls) played to Steyn's accurate balls from hell while Harbhajan (8, 16 balls, 1x4) was trapped leg before to bring down the curtains to the Indian innings.


With a massive 325 runs in the bank Smith had no hesitation in enforcing the follow-on and that move paid off immediately. Gambhir (1, 3 balls) fatally shouldered his arms to an in-swinger from Morkel and the ball kissed the outer half of the off-stump on its way to the keeper leaving India at 1 for 1. Sehwag (16, 19 balls, 4x4) continued to blaze away as he punished some wayward bowling from the visitors but Steyn sucked him into playing a cut shot and the resultant edge flew to Smith at first slip as India tottered. India could have been in more trouble when Tendulkar offered no shot to an off-cutter from Steyn but was saved due to the height. The pair then added 41 in 18.2 overs as they took India to 63 for 2 at stumps.


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