Veteran pacer Dale Steyn has become the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in T20 internationals after picking up the wicket of England's Jos Buttler during the first T20I at Buffalo Park on Wednesday. Steyn achieved the feat in the first contest of the three-match, which the Proteas won by one run.
The moment arrived in the third of England's run-chase of 178 as Steyn, in the process, surpassed former leg-spinner Imran Tahir’s tally of 61. Tahir scalped 61 wickets in 35 matches for the Proteas, while Steyn reached the 62-wicket mark in his 45th match. Third in the list of leading the Proteas wicket-takers is Morne Morkel with 46 wickets.
Overall, Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga is the leading wicket-taker in T20I cricket with 106 wickets to his name. He is followed by Shahid Afrid (96), Shakib al Hasan (92) and Umar Gul (85).
Steyn already holds the record for being South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in Test cricket. The right-arm fast bowler has 439 wickets to his name in 93 Tests. In 145 ODIs, he has scalped 196 wickets.
Player-cum-mentor Steyn eyes T20 World Cup -
On Sunday, the 36-year-old was playing his first match for South Africa in almost a year. Steyn has had constant run-ins with injuries over the last few years, especially after a career-threatening shoulder injury during South Africa’s tour of Australia in November 2016. Since then, he has featured in just eight Tests, nine ODIs and three T20Is.
The Veteran has his eye on the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia this year as he takes on added responsibility as mentor to his team’s young fast bowlers. He says his only goal for now is to play in the T20 World Cup in October.
“With test cricket, the workload was too much as I want to extend my career for as long as I can,” Steyn told reporters..
“In test cricket you can bowl 20 overs in a day, that is five T20s, so it was a smart decision.
“I love playing cricket, right now I wake up every morning and I can’t see myself doing anything else.
“As long as the desire is still there to play at the highest level, to get batters out and out-smart them … once I have decided I don’t want that I will walk away.”
Steyn admits he has had to adapt his game after chronic shoulder problems reduced his once blistering pace, but has enjoyed challenging himself to find new ways to get batsmen out.
“I want to keep experimenting and trying to change my game,” he said. “If I’m only going to play one more match I want to take a wicket with every ball, not try and defend a boundary.”
Steyn spent most of his career in the same team as current South Africa coach Mark Boucher and director of cricket Graeme Smith, and now that he is one of the few senior statesmen left in a young squad, has added responsibility on the pitch.
“This is a young group of players and my role is to orchestrate the bowling attack a little bit,” Steyn said. “I want to stand at mid-off and say to the bowler, ‘what are you thinking?’ and hopefully they can learn and get better.
“You want to win every game, obviously, but right now it is more about learning. If we win the World Cup, nobody is going to care if we lost to England in February.”
( With inputs from Reuters and IANS)
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