Dale Steyn is back in the Indian Premier League. After an absence of two years, the South African pacer is back in India’s premier Twenty20 tournament and will feature for Royal Challengers Bangalore in this edition. A couple of days back, ESPNCricinfo had reported that Steyn was in the frame to replace Australian pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile in the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad. Coulter-Nile, who had missed the first few matches due to the ODI series against Pakistan which Australia won 5-0, was expected to join along with Marcus Stoinis and Ashton Turner, the other members of the squad but a back injury has put paid to his chances.
Steyn had himself raised speculations that he might head to India for the Indian Premier League. In an Instagram post that has now been deleted, Steyn shared a picture of his passport with valid Indian visa on it and wrote, "Ahhh, what's this little surprise." This led to speculations from many Indian cricket team fans that Steyn was going to join Royal Challengers Bangalore.
This is not the first time that Steyn has been associated with Royal Challengers Bangalore. The South African pacer played for Royal Challengers Bangalore from 2008 to 2010 before moving to Deccan Chargers in 2011. Steyn was also part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad unit and then made a move to the Gujarat Lions in 2016.
Royal Challengers Bangalore will be hoping that the arrival of Steyn will boost their chances. Virat Kohli’s side has lost six consecutive games on the trot, equaling the worst start ever by a franchise. Royal Challengers Bangalore have featured in three IPL finals in 2009, 2011 and 2016 but have not won the title. In the last two editions, they have finished in sixth and eighth position respectively. Royal Challengers Bangalore will now face Kings XI Punjab in a crucial encounter in Mohali on Saturday.
Steyn, who has been plagued by injury for the last couple of years, equaled Kapil Dev’s record of 434 wickets during the Test series against Sri Lanka. The 35-year-old had recently overtaken Shaun Pollock’s tally of 421 wickets in the series against Pakistan to become the most successful pacer for South Africa, Constant injury issues threatened to derail his career and the questions grew louder with each injury. When Steyn went past 400 wickets in just 80 Tests during the series against Bangladesh in 2014, it seemed that it would only be a matter of time before he would break Pollock’s record.
Following the end of the Bangladesh series, the nightmare began for Steyn. A groin injury that he sustained in the India series in 2015 curtailed his participation and he was ruled out for a couple of months. He returned for the series against England and put in a magnificent performance in the Boxing Day Test in Durban when he picked up 4/70 but in the second innings, he suffered a shoulder injury which prolonged his time on the sidelines.
Steyn spent a considerable amount of time outside the game and returned for the series against New Zealand where he displayed his mettle and took 5/33 in Centurion to give South Africa a series win. Steyn traveled to Australia in 2016 where he got the wicket of David Warner for 97 in Perth. However, he once again suffered an injury and this one was more serious. A fractured shoulder led to surgery and he was sidelined for 14 months. It seemed that the record would be out of Steyn’s reach. When he returned for the India series in 2018 in Cape Town, he got two wickets but in the second innings, an injured heel resulted in him missing the series and also the four Tests against Australia.