Perhaps so. In this quick post, I'll explain why Steyn's effort and the description of it which in it dominant avatars includes "this is why he's the best bowler in the world" to Cricinfo's headline, illustrates my point, both of the mediocre disfigured caricature of cricket that is T20 and the response to it.
But first, a description of what Steyn actually did. His first over was fairly basic. Back of a length around off stump, which the batsman played on merit. Martin Guptill didn't try to take chances. He simply got behind the line of the ball and played it. The deliveries were unthreatening. None were aimed at the stumps, none were full enough to drive or short enough to pull. Nothing exceptional. Just basic line and length, which a competent first class journeyman should be (and usually is) easily capable of.
Steyn kept up a this basic line and length throughout the next 3 overs with some variations to the left handed batsman. Occasionally, he saw the batsman backing away to leg and followed him. On one occasion, he bowled a slower ball which a batsman failed to pick and hit to long on for a catch. On another, a batsman tried to pull a Steyn delivery and the fielder at deep mid-wicket took a fine diving catch.
Steyn's great achievement was to not go for double digit overs, especially in the last two overs that he bowled. But how much of this was due to what he did, and how much of it was due to bad choices made by batsmen? Consider the fact that Ross Taylor, the batsman who had scored 50 by then, faced only 1 ball from Steyn's final over. The other batsmen, instead of taking a single and letting Taylor bat, tried to hit the first three balls of Steyn's over to the boundary. Actually, they tried to hit the first 4 to the boundary and connected the 4th. Any of the first three could have gone to the boundary off an edge, but didn't. As it happened, the batsmen got bat on ball 2 times out of 4. The first time, it went to hand. A fraction of a millimetre more of the bat and it would have gone to the third man boundary instead of the wicket keeper's gloves. A larger fraction of a millimetre and it would have gone to third man for a single. Since it was delivered cross seam, that first ball was not an attempt to swing the ball away from the outside edge of the bat.
The most that can be said about what Steyn did is that he didn't drift on the batsman's pads. But this was to be expected since his field was set for this, with the fine leg fielder inside the circle. Its not great bowling to bowl to one's field, its merely basic bowling. Even with this basic bowling, Steyn would have to be lucky, playing with only 9 fielders and a batsman swinging hard at everything (the merits of this are another matter, but they do not contribute to the quality of what Steyn did), to have batsmen miss and Steyn hit.
These final over finishes are lotteries. South Africa's win had more to do with Steyn's good fortune than they did with Steyn's brilliance. This is no reflection on Steyn or on the batsman, but simply on the state of the contest.
In South Africa's previous match, which they lost by 5 runs, Angelo Mathews got a top edge for four off Steyn. If the win against New Zealand was due to Steyn's brilliance, was the defeat against Sri Lanka due to his mediocrity? Obviously, neither claim is true. This is due to the compression of the contest. The fatal problem of T20 is that batsmen take chances all the time. Tight last over finishes, even in ODIs are lotteries - they are usually determined by whether or not a chance taken by a batsman comes off or not - their outcome can almost never be attributed to what either bowler or batsman deliberately do.
Steyn didn't "defend" 7 runs in the final over. He did bowl the final over. That it cost less than 7 runs is only marginally related to his bowling. It has no more to do with anything he did than the fact that the 17th over of the innings bowled by Imran Tahir went for only 2 runs has to do with Imran Tahir. New Zealand needed 31 in the final 4 overs with 7 wickets in hand. Colin Munro tried reverse sweeps and then conventional sweeps but got out. That over from Tahir was probably as important as any of Steyn's in the final analysis.
But perhaps I should leave the last word to Cricinfo's ball-by-ball commentary.
17.5 Steyn to Taylor, no run, another dot ball, Taylor again can't get bat on ball to a quick one outside off, no footwork at all as Taylor fishes at that one, what a bowler Steyn is!Dale Steyn's a terrific bowler. His bowling against New Zealand in a T20 game tells us nothing about his ability as a bowler. It is a signature characteristic of T20 that it promotes this type of cognitive dissonance - where the complete absence of footwork gets used as the basis for deciding a bowler's brilliance.
Had Luke Ronchi's outside edge evaded Quinton de Kock and gone to the boundary, just as Corey Anderson's did earlier in the New Zealand innings, South Africa would have lost and Steyn wouldn't have been "sensational", because he wouldn't have "defended" 7 in the final over.
These are not deliberate inches, but entirely accidental ones. We know this because in real cricket these inches are negotiated deliberately and precisely. Just ask Ryan Harris or Cheteshwar Pujara. Why, ask Steyn himself.