DALE Steyn remains positive Hampshire can still beat Surrey – despite being asked to follow on at The Ageas Bowl last night.

The South Africa star finished with 2-91 from 26 overs as Surrey made 368, before Hampshire collapsed to 135 all out in reply.

Hampshire will begin the penultimate day following on 233 runs behind.

But Steyn remains upbeat.

He said: “We’re staring down it, but it’s a good opportunity for someone, especially if the sun’s out, to put their hand up with a big hundred.

“It’s a good wicket and I think they’ve given us a chance here.

“This wicket’s going to get worse to bat on and if we get a 150-run lead, maybe 200, we’ll have something to bowl at on day four when I think it will be really difficult.”

Steyn was relieved to come through Surrey’s first innings feeling no ill effects in his first first-class match for five months.

The South Africa star has not played the longer form of the game since suffering a heel injury in a Test match against India in January.

And that was after being limited to a handful of T20 games in 2017 by a shoulder problem.

So far, so good.

He said: “The body’s feeling good, I got through 26 overs in first innings which was more than  I thought I’d have to bowl. 

“The body feels fine and if I had to bowl against this evening I’d have been fine too. 

“I’d have liked more wickets, obviously, but I’m not going to judge myself too much. Playing without picking up an injury is the most important thing to me."

Steyn is confident he will be fit to take on Sri Lanka next month.

“I should be  good to go if selected but I need to play some cricket, there’s lots of ring rust at the moment.

“Getting overs in is the most important thing. 

“It’s winter back home so if I was in South Africa I’d be in indoor nets or a training camp, nothing compared to game time.

“I want to find my feet right now, find my lines and lengths.”

Steyn, who conceded 50 in his first five overs for Hampshire in the One-day Cup, continued: “That one-day game the other day showed that if you haven’t played for a while and not aware of your game plans and execution is not as good you’re going to be found wanting and that’s exactly what happened.

"The next five overs went a lot better than the first that went for 50 but the four-day stuff will really sort that out. 

“It gives you time to build strength in and get used to the pain so come July I should be good to go.

 “Right now my main goal is to be able to play cricket without getting injured again.”

Steyn is desperate to get the five wickets he needs to surpass Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s top Test wicket-taker and admits: “It’s been in the back of my mind for two-and-a-half years!

“I’ve only needed like five wickets for two years! 

“If I can get through the foot and shoulder fine I should be good to go. So far it seems thumbs up and Hampshire have been really great.

“Chalky’s (Hampshire director of cricket Giles White)said that  when I’m tired to give him a shout. 

“Right now I want to play as much as I can this month and look to Sri Lanka in July but I think I am coming back [to Hampshire] as far as I know.”

Steyn was impressed by the performance of Hampshire nemesis Rory Burns, who made 151.

He continued: “He batted bloody nicely. I always watch guys on the way they leave the ball, I thought he left the ball really well.

"It’s always easy to come at the ball, you can nick one for four or hit it through the covers, it still says four in the scorebook. I watch the way giuys leave the ball and he left the ball with good intent.

“He watched it very carefully, the short ball he got out the way or took it on. 

“He looked really good. I think he looks like a Test batsman. I’ve opened the bowling to a lot of opening batters before. He was a little lucky on day one, there was a little something but that’s always going to happen. 

“There’s always something in the deck if you’re opening the batting on day one. He rode his luck and batted really well after that. When I blinked he was on 150 so he did it pretty quickly too.”