DALE STEYN trumped the two batsmen most likely to get India through a testing last day at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Monday with his first 12 deliveries and thereafter there was no stopping the Castle Lager Proteas after they had sniffed the kill.
They went on to beat India by 10 wickets with most of the final session to spare to take the two-match Sunfoil Series by a 1-0 margin. It is an outcome that increases their lead over India at the top of the ICC World Test rankings to 16 rating points.
Steyn, who was the essential difference between the two teams in this match, taking nine wickets, including the key breakthroughs in both innings, was named Sunfoil Man of the Match while AB de Villiers was named Sunfoil Man of the Series.
Both also had individual landmarks to celebrate. Steyn collected his 350th wicket in his 69th Test match to be the second quickest bowler to this landmark. Only Muttiah Muralitharan (68) has got there quicker. De Villiers, who has been in sublime form behind the stumps, completed 14 dismissals during the series which is a South African record for a two-match series. He improved on the previous mark of 13, achieved on two separate occasions by Mark Boucher.
Steyn may have been lucky to get Virat Kohli first ball of the day but the one that accounted for Cheteshwar Pujara was probably the delivery of the series. Delivered from wide of the stumps it straightened enough off the surface to beat the batsman’s defensive shot and clip the outside of the off-stump.
It was small wonder that his bowling coach, Allan Donald, enjoyed the moment just as much as Steyn did as it was a carbon copy of the delivery that South Africa’s first great fast bowler of the modern era produced to bowl India’s Nayan Mongia at Sahara Park Newlands in 1997.
Vernon Philander then chipped in with another delivery that deviated sharply to trap Rohit Sharma leg before wicket and, with Robbie Peterson also contributing, India lost five wickets in the morning session for 105 runs.
It was only a splendid rearguard action by Ajinkya Rahane that forced South Africa to bat a second time. As was the case with Murali Vijay in the first innings he fully deserved a century that was not to be, being last man out for 96 (157 balls, 11 fours and 2 sixes) as he attempted to farm the strike.
As had been the case in the first innings he showed a lot of guts in standing up to the barrage from the South African quicks and hit some wonderful drives.
In defeat, India will have taken a lot out of the series from the batting of Rahane, Kohli, Pujara and Vijay.
The Proteas will have been heartened by the performance of Peterson in the second half of the match both with bat and ball and also by the consistent solid starts they have been given by Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen at the top of the order.
The post-Kallis Test era now begins and, although it poses challenges, there is no reason why the Proteas cannot continue to dominate the five-day form of the game.