Most cricketers have a favourite ground and, if one asked Dale Steyn to nominate the venue that he likes above all others, Johannesburg’s Bidvest Wanderers Stadium would be the one that the South Africa bowler would likely choose.
Steyn has played eight Test matches for South Africa at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, taking 47 wickets at an average of 18.63 runs. Steyn has had five five-wicket innings and two 10-wicket games in Johannesburg, including taking six wickets for eight runs in an innings and 11 wickets for 60 runs in a match. Only Makhaya Ntini and Shaun Pollock have taken more Test wickets at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium than Steyn and both of them have played at least two more games at the ground. Steyn is the king of the venue.
South Africa and India are getting set to play the First Test of their two-match series but the teams have faced off in Johannesburg already. The Bidvest Wanderers Stadium was where South Africa beat India by 141 runs in the First One Day International and Steyn was the man who starred with the ball, taking three wickets for 25 runs off eight economical overs after Proteas opener Quinton de Kock had belted 135 runs off 121 balls to help the home side post a big score.
Betting on Steyn to pull off his usual Johannesburg heroics is definitely the most sensible way to approach the First Test. Sky Bet is offering odds of 3.25 that Steyn is South Africa’s top bowler in India’s first innings. Steyn has been South Africa’s top bowler in its opponent’s first innings in each of the last five Test games at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium. Five consecutive victories in this exotic market mean that Steyn should be the very hot favourite to make it six in a row so take the odds of 3.25 about that happening.
Steyn has been the official man of the match in three of the last five Test games in Johannesburg. Furthermore, fast or medium-fast bowlers have received man-of-the-match honours in each of the last 10 Test games at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium. Steyn is not the favourite to be the First Test man of the match with some bookmakers so one should be keen on snapping up the speedster’s odds of 11.00 with Sky Bet.
With regards to the headline First Test result, South Africa would be a confident selection if it was not for the weather forecast that suggests that rain is likely to interrupt play on each of the scheduled five days. India has shown time and time again that it does not fare well against top-quality fast bowling on bouncy pitches. India has won only two of its 15 Test games in South Africa. And Johannesburg fans have not witnessed a draw in any of the last 12 Test matches played in the city. One can see why South Africa is odds on across the board to win the series opener – BetVictor is top of the shops at odds of 1.98 – but the aforementioned bets on Steyn’s performance make considerably more appeal.
Finally, another First Test exotic market worth exploring is the one pertaining to the fall of India’s first wicket in its first innings. Unibet is offering odds of 1.87 that India’s opening partnership in its first innings ends up under 27 and a half runs. Only one of the last eight away teams to play a Test game at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium has gone over that line, the exception to the rule being Australia in 2011. Phillip Hughes and Shane Watson put on 174 runs for the loss of Australia’s first innings before AB de Villiers caught Hughes off the bowling of Vernon Philander. The statistics support betting on the under.