Dale Steyn is the best bowler in the world at the moment, that cannot be argued. One of the things that makes Steyn so good is that he has been so consistent for long periods of time, both in his home conditions and away from home.
With two Tests to play against India in South Africa, the first of which began in Johannesburg on Wednesday, it's a good time to assess Steyn's record against the Indians. A mark of a good bowler is often how well they perform in conditions that aren't suited to them, and the subcontinent certainly is one of the places where quicks tend to struggle.
That hasn't been the case for Steyn.
He has played just five Tests in India, but he averages 20.23 there. Here's a closer look at Steyn's figures against India in India.
|Dale Steyn's record vs India in India||Games||Innings||Wickets||Average||Economy||BBI||BBM|
Overall against India, Steyn has an equally impressive record. His average against India is the lowest for any of the top four sides in Test cricket at the moment. Here's an overall look at his figures via HowSTAT!
Statistics only tell half the story, and the above stats can have two five-fors and one ten-for added to them, too.
What has been key to Steyn's success is his ability to generate pace even on flat tracks. Although he does show signs of frustration at times, it barely gets the better of him. Nothing fire's up South Africa's pace ace more than getting a wicket. Of course, he also has the advantage of having a really good short ball, which is something India's batsmen have struggled against in the past.
Here is a closer assessment of his performances on a series-by-series basis.
Dale Steyn vs. India in India, series-by-series
Stats can often be manipulated to prove a point, but in Steyn's case, it goes beyond that. His energy on the field and his influence in the game overall cannot be underestimated. He is crucial when it comes to putting constant pressure on batsmen and knows how to build that up—whether it comes in the form of a barrage of short balls to tempt a batsman into a hook or a pull shot. Sometimes he simply does it by bowling so accurately that batsmen simply can't get him away. He uses the crease incredibly well, which often forces the batsmen into uncomfortable situations.
In home conditions against India, Steyn has been equally effective, and his successful tour cam in the 2010-11 series. Here's a closer look at those outings.
Dale Steyn vs. India in South Africa, series-by-series
Steyn only went wicketless twice in an innings against India. The first time was the first Test he played against them in 2006 and the other was in April 2008, when South Africa played India in Kanpur. It's a pretty impressive feat for a bowler.
In that 2010-11 series, Steyn had a superb run and never averaged above 20.00 in an innings, according to HowSTAT!.
Steyn's ability to keep the run rate tight and build pressure will be crucial for South Africa during the two Tests against India. Building frustration will support his fellow seamers in getting the breakthroughs, while his pace barrage and short balls will serve as a way to rattle the Indians a bit. It was something that was evident from day one of the first Test when he dismissed Shikhar Dhawan early on. Of course, that made him quite happy.
If he can do more of the same for the remainder of the series, he will finish the year a very happy man. Almost as happy as in the GIF below, where he is celebrating Dhawan's wicket.