India’s record in South Africa is something that puts a big question mark on its status of one of the cricketing powerhouses. Having toured South Africa six times since the first in 1992, India have won just two of the 17 Tests with the 1-1 draw in 2010-11 being their best return . Even the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and other stalwarts of Indian cricket could not propel the nation to an elusive series win in the rainbow nation.
However, the upcoming three-match Test series has been billed as the one where India can end their long wait for a series win. Virat Kohli & Co. have arrived in South Africa on the back of nine straight series wins in Tests including the 3-0 win over the Proteas at home in 2015 and are sitting at the top of ICC rankings for over a year now. On the other hand, South Africa has shown indifferent form in recent times. Last year, they lost the Test series in England 3-1 before dismantling Bangladesh and Zimbabwe at home to send a timely reminder to the high-flying visitors.
South Africa have thoroughly dominated India at home in all the past Test series. But at the same time, there is no denying that the Indians have also given the hosts a run for their money on several occasions. So with just a couple of days left before the two giants lock horns in the much-anticipated series, we are taking a walk down the memory lane and recall five memorable Tests between the two celebrated rivals.
5. South Africa vs. India at Durban – November 13-17, 1992:
The Test will always hold a special place in the history of South Africa and India’s cricket. India had the privilege of being the first international team to play a Test in South Africa after their re-admission into international cricket post the apartheid era.
The result of the game did not match the enormity of the occasion but it was secondary as the game kick brought an end to the long wait for international cricket in the rainbow nation. Pravin Amre, who was making his debut in the game, scored a composed century while Kepler Wessels scored one for the hosts as the game ended in a tame draw.
Batting first, the Proteas scored 277 before India replied with 254. In the second innings, South Africa were 176 for three before rain washed out the fourth day.
4. South Africa v India at Johannesburg – January 16-20, 1997:
The tour of 1996/97 was a precursor to the things that were to follow for India in South Africa. The visitors were completely dismantled in the first two Tests, losing them by 328 runs and 282 runs. With a humiliating whitewash looming, India bounced back in style and had the hosts on the mat before the latter managed to escape with a draw.
The architect of India’s stunning fightback was Rahul Dravid’s maiden Test century. Riding on Dravid’s 148, India posted 410 in the first innings. The bowlers led by Javagal Srinath complimented the batsmen’s effort well by bowling out the Proteas for 321 runs. India went on to score 266 for 8 (declared) in the second innings, setting the hosts a target of 356 runs.
South Africa then had their back against the wall after being reduced to 95 for seven before Daryll Cullinan, and Lance Klusener strung together a partnership of 127 runs and were also supported by rain as the hosts managed to escape with a draw, finishing on 228 for 5.
3. South Africa v India at Johannesburg – Dec 15-18, 2006:
Tainted India bowler S Sreesanth will always be remembered for his stunning bowling display in the Johannesburg Test in 2006, playing a huge role in India first win in South Africa. With Sreesanth wreaking havoc, South Africa were folded up for just 84 in reply to India’s 249. Sreesanth took 5 for 40 while Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble took two apiece.
India went on to score 236 in the second innings, thus setting the hosts an improbable target of 402. Sreesanth, Zaheer, and Kumble once again played their role to perfection, taking three apiece to bowl out the hosts for 278 to fire India to a 123-run win.
2. South Africa v India at Johannesburg – Dec 18-22, 2013:
India were the clear favorites to register their third Test win in South Africa after setting the hosts an improbable target of 458. South Africa needed 320 runs on the final day with eight wickets in hand. However, when the game ended, it must have been India who would have considered themselves lucky as the hosts nearly pulled off a world record chase.
Faf du Plessis (134) and AB de Villiers (103) scored stunning centuries to take their agonizingly close to a monumental win, but in the end, the Proteas fell short by just eight runs. By the time both were dismissed, South Africa needed only 16 runs. However, with only Imran Tahir and the injured Morne Morkel to come, the hosts were still not safe. But Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn batted out 19 deliveries to secure a thrilling draw.
1. South Africa vs. India at Durban – December 26-29 2010:
After losing the first Test, India looked set to lose the second Test too after being bundled out for just 205. However, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan rose to the occasion, taking 4 and three wickets respectively to bowl out the hosts for a paltry 131.
In the second innings too, India’s top-order failed to deliver as the team found itself reeling at 148 for 7. However, VVS Laxman once again stood tall to guide India to competitive total. The stylish batsman, who scored 96, added 70 with Zaheer to take India to 228. Chasing 303, South Africa were all out for 215 with Zaheer and Sreesanth taking 3 wickets each.