Johannesburg: Prior to the India-South Africa two-Test series, Dale Steyn was expected to cause major problems for the Indian batsmen on bouncy and fast pitches in the Rainbow Nation. In two ODIs preceding the Tests, Steyn was sensational, taking six wickets in 15 high-quality overs and conceding just 42 runs. However, the 30-year-old was in for a rude shock in the first Test at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.
In India's first innings Steyn ended with figures of 1 for 61 in 26 overs as India were bowled out for 280. The real shock for Steyn was to come in the second innings as he went wicket-less, conceding 104 runs in 30 overs. It was the first time in a stellar Test career that Steyn leaked hundred runs in an innings without taking a wicket. It was also the first time that he went 30 overs without success. Amazingly, it was the first time in 27 innings that Steyn did not take a wicket -- since 2011-12 against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve, Wellington. On that occasion, Steyn bowled just 15 overs as the match petered out to a draw. (Also read: Will Graeme Smith quit as skipper?)
"No bowler likes a hundred against his name, even if he gets a few wickets," said NDTVs cricket expert Sunil Gavaskar. "Dale Steyn hasn't got any wickets, so he will be pretty upset with what has happened."
Steyn ended with match figures of 1 for 165 in 56 overs. These represent his worst bowling average (165 runs per wicket) and strike rate (336 balls per wicket) in a Test match. In 2012, Steyn had bowled 30 overs with figures of 1 for 129 in Brisbane. In 128 innings in Test cricket thus far, Steyn has gone without a wicket on just 11 occasions. South Africa have won just two of those games, lost four and drawn four. (Related: Morne Morkel's injury hits South Africa hard)
Heading into the second Test in Durban, starting Boxing Day, the Indians will be wary of a wounded Steyn. Despite his poor showing in the Johannesburg Test, Steyn still boasts of an excellent record against India. In 11 matches so far, Steyn has picked up 54 wickets at an excellent average of 21.7. With James Anderson currently in a prolonged slump, Steyn is undoubtedly the world's best fast bowler. The law of averages suggest that he will be back with a bang sooner rather than later.