26 Nov

Morne Morkel steps up as injury sidelines Dale Steyn in Nagpur

first_imgThe Nagpur Test was going to be a chance for Morne Morkel to step out of Dale Steyn’s shadow. The latter was ruled out of the crucial third Test with an injury and Morkel, his new-ball partner was expected to lead an inexperienced attack on a pitch that afforded turn right from day one.Hashim Amla had put up a brave front on the eve of the match, when it became increasingly clear that Steyn would have to sit out. Perhaps the South African skipper knew what many around the world would have already guessed – Morkel had plenty of class to shine on his own. The lanky pacer has always been playing a supporting role to Steyn, who with his pace and swing has wowed fans the world over.But on a dustbowl in Nagpur, Morkel got steep bounce, movement and extracted reverse swing as early as the 19th over of the Indian innings. When a bowler has these skills, most captains would be rest assured even if the strike bowler had to sit out.The Jamtha track was tailor-made to assist spinners for the third Test also had something for the seamers and to top that traditionally, there has always been reverse swing. Steyn, a known exponent of reverse swing had troubled the batsmen at this venue five years ago and returned with 10 wickets as South Africa thrashed India by an innings. But Morkel made up for his absence and Steyn was not missed.India won the toss and opted to bat, Morkel started proceedings but struggled to get his length right, which allowed the Indian openers to get off to a good start. Murali Vijay as usual carried his rich vein of form and looked set for a big score until Morkel started hitting the right areas. Vijay tried to tuck a length delivery from Morkel on to the on-side but missed it – he was trapped plumb in front at 40.advertisementThe reverse swing was yet to start for him and it all started in the second session on the opening day. Morkel set up Ajinkya Rahane beautifully by first bowling a conventional outswinger but the outside edge fell short of the slip fielders. The next ball reversed back a long way pitching outside off and Rahane going for an expansive drive, missed completely. Result? His off-stump was uprooted. Morkel’s next victim was Virat Kohli, who could be dangerous in any condition.After South Africa were shot out for 79 in response to India’s 215, Morkel was in business early again. He packed off Vijay for the second time in the match and followed that up with the wickets of Rohit Sharma (23) and Ravichandran Ashwin (7) down the order. He finished with a haul of six wickets from the match. With figures of 3 for 35 in the first innings and 3 for 19 in the second, Morkel tried manfully to keep the Proteas in the game.The Test series has been so far been dominated by spinners but Morkel outshone them in Nagpur with some top-class bowling. Even as South Africa’s batsmen complain of the rank turners, Morkel showed the pitch had nothing to do if one had the skills needed to shine at the highest level.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *