NZ set unwanted record as Steyn fires

Pace ace affirms his commitment to the Proteas after destroying New Zealand's top order in the second Test

South Africa pace ace Dale Steyn has stopped short of declaring he's back to his brilliant best, despite inflicting an unwanted record on New Zealand in the second Test at Centurion.

NZ batsmen Tom Latham and Martin Guptill became just the fifth opening pair in Test history to each be dismissed for a golden duck in the same innings as Steyn claimed 5-33 in his second Test back from a serious shoulder injury.

Steyn inflicted the unwanted record in the first over of New Zealand's second innings as the Proteas crusied to a 204-run victory that secured the two-match series.

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Set a mammoth 400 to win, the Black Caps lost Latham to the first ball of the innings when the left-hander played on to his stumps as he looked to leave a rearing Steyn thunderbolt.

Four balls later, Guptill was called through for a single by captain Kane Williamson before the lightning quick struck again, producing a peach to take the outside edge of Guptill's bat and hand a simple catch to Hashim Amla at first slip.

The paceman then removed Ross Taylor in the following over to compound NZ's poor start and send a warning to Australia ahead of their three-Test series in November.

Steyn appeals successfully for the wicket of Ross Taylor // Getty
Steyn appeals successfully for the wicket of Ross Taylor // Getty

And in an ominous sign for the Aussie batsmen, the 33-year-old says he's not yet firing on all cylinders.

"I don't think I'm in a position to say 'I'm back'," he said.

"I need a couple more Test matches, more game time, just to learn how to start playing the game again.

"I'm getting there and there has been reward but I'm nowhere near what I'm capable of."

And if his performance on the field wasn't enough, Steyn affirmed his commitment to the Proteas after an injury-ravaged period that had some questioning his international future.

"I just want to play," he said. "I don't know if I will wake up in a month and can't do it anymore or if I will wake up in four years and can't do it anymore.

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"I just really enjoy playing Test cricket. I love it. It's what I feel I have been put on earth to do.

"I do not know when to pull the plug or when the time to make that decision will come but if I am still making batters jump around and the pace is there, I will carry on doing what I am doing."

Latham and Guptill were the first opening duo to fall first ball in the same innings since August 2000 when Sri Lankan pair Marvin Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya were out for a golden globe each against South Africa in Kandy.

The previous instances in the 20th century came in 1982, when England quick Bob Willis removed Pakistan pair Mohsin Khan and Mudassar Nazar at Headingley, and in 1933 when English pair Herbert Sutcliffe and Eddie Paynter were undone by New Zealand's opening attack of Ted Badcock and Dennis Smith, respectively, in Christchurch.

And in 1888, in Test No.30, Australia's Charlie Bannerman and captain Percy McDonnell became the first openers to each be dismissed from the first ball they faced, when Bobby Peel and George Lohmann did the damage at Old Trafford.

Steyn's dismissal of Guptill was the second time in three innings in the series that he'd sent the opener on his way having called out the right-hander prior to the series, much like Test cricket's all-time leading paceman Glenn McGrath did during his decorated career.

"I like playing against them (New Zealand) and I have had personal success against them," Steyn said before the first Test in Durban.

Steyn dismissed Guptill twice in the series // Getty
Steyn dismissed Guptill twice in the series // Getty

"I got Guptill out in the Caribbean Premier League, nicked him off.

"Straight away he came to me and said, 'I can't wait to come to South Africa', and I said, 'Neither can I'."

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Steyn also removed Latham twice in the series as he moved to 416 career wickets, leapfrogging Pakistan great Wasim Akram into 11th place on the list of Test cricket's leading wicket-takers, a feat achieved in 26 fewer innings than the legendary left-armer.

The Proteas star now sits just five wickets shy of Shaun Pollock's South Africa record of 421 wickets, although Steyn says he's more focused on team success, giving a strong indication he wants to play on to the 2019 World Cup in the UK.

"When I am 70 years old that's not what I am going to remember," Steyn said of Pollock's record.

"I will remember tonight. I will remember winning in Australia, I will remember winning in England, and hopefully I will remember winning a World Cup too."

Meg Lanning Steve Smith