MOHALI: Fiery fast bowler Dale Steyn on Tuesday insisted pace will be the key to South Africa’s success in the Test series against India despite the slow pitches.
The Indian team management wants dry pitches that favour its spinners for the four-match series which opens in the northern town of Mohali on Thursday.
But Steyn, one of the more lethal fast bowlers in modern cricket with 402 wickets from 80 Tests, said the tourists will still rely on him and the other pacemen in the side to deliver victory.
“We will rely heavily on the quicks and every bowler knows what they need to do,” the 32-year-old told reporters. “We have some good spinners and everybody fills in to get 20 wickets between us.”
Steyn has enjoyed good success during the five Tests he has played on Indian soil, claiming 26 wickets at an average of 20.23.
His best career figures of 7-51 came against India during the Nagpur Test in 2010 and helped South Africa thrash the hosts by an innings and six runs.
Steyn also claimed 5-23 and 3-91 in Ahmedabad in 2008 to fashion his team’s huge win by an innings and 90 runs.
Steyn will again be expected to lead a strong pace attack that includes Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and young Kagiso Rabada.
He said the secret to doing well on slow pitches was to generate speed in the air rather than rely on movement off the surface.
“I think pace through the air is really important,” he said. “With the wickets here on the slow side, batsmen are able to adjust to medium-pace bowling when it hits the deck.
“But sheer pace can push batsmen because it gives them a lot less time to adjust. And you have also to land the new ball in the right areas.
“It is really tough, I am not going to lie about that. But I love bowling in India,” said Steyn, who turns out regularly in the Indian Premier League.
Steyn said his top-ranked side will not start as favourites in the series despite winning both the preceding Twenty20 and one-day contests.
“I don’t think we are the favourites,” he said. “We are playing in India’s back garden and it is going to be extremely difficult.
“But we come into the series with a lot of confidence and expectations of winning. We have come up with some good game plans. We are up for the challenge, that’s for sure.”
South Africa, who have not lost a Test series away from home since 2006, last won a series in India in 2000.