CENTURION, South Africa — Dale Steyn became South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in test cricket as he helped put the pressure on Pakistan in the opening session of the first test on Wednesday.
Steyn removed opener Fakhar Zaman for 12 to claim his 422nd wicket and overtake Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s best.
That was the second early strike for the home team as Pakistan, after winning the toss, struggled to 76-4 at lunch against the quick bowlers.
Top-ranked Kagiso Rabada trapped the other opener, Imam-ul-Haq, lbw for a duck in the second over. Duanne Olivier, in South Africa’s lineup due to injuries to Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi, collected the other two wickets.
One of Olivier’s victims was Shan Masood, a last-minute replacement in Pakistan’s team after Haris Sohail was ruled out with a knee injury on the morning of the series-opener.
Azhar Ali was 31 not out and Babar Azam 6 not out at lunch as the tourists faced an early challenge in the three-test series.
Steyn had Fakhar caught by Dean Elgar in the slips and Rabada, South Africa’s new fast-bowling star, lifted the record-breaker up on to his shoulders. The standing ovation in the crowd at SuperSport Park, where Steyn began his career, continued well past the on-field celebrations and was still going on when he prepared to bowl his next delivery.
“I won’t lie, when I was standing there at the top of my mark and everyone was standing up, I almost had a tear, I had a lump in my throat,” Steyn said. “Very pleased. Very happy.”
Pollock, who was commentating on television, was one of the first to congratulate him as he came off the field for the lunch break and presented Steyn with a bottle of champagne.
“On all different wickets around the world he’s been absolutely superb,” Pollock said, “and what those figures don’t tell is he’s a fantastic guy as well.”
The 35-year-old Steyn’s record was a long time coming after he sustained a career-threatening shoulder injury in 2016. He has played just four tests in the last two years.
Steyn is now up to 11th on the all-time list of test wicket-takers, nine behind Richard Hadlee. In an indicator of his quality, his 422 wickets have come in 89 games. One of South Africa’s greats, Pollock’s 421 came in 108 tests. (AP)