Lesser Known Facts About India & South Africa Cricket

With South Africa set to start off the longest tour of India with 4 tests, 5 ODIs and 3 T-20s from 2nd October’2015, we are attempting to brush up your memory about the history of matches played between these two giants.

Here are some interesting facts about the rivalry between the teams which has produced some breath-taking cricket in the past 20 years:

Welcome Back South Africa, 1991

South Africa returned to cricket after 22 years in wilderness due to Apartheid. Their first assignment was a 3 match ODI series in India. The importance of this series far outweighed the result, which went 2-1 in India’s favour. The matches were played to capacity crowds at Kolkata, Gwalior and New Delhi and the South Africans received a rousing welcome wherever they went.

Emotions ran high in the series and Clive Rice, the South African captain who finally played his first match for South Africa after 22 years of cricket, was quoted in Wisden as saying,

I know how Neil Armstrong felt when he stood on the moon

Srinath Strikes, Ahmedabad, 1996

Javagal Srinath’s match winning spell of 6-21 at Motera, Ahmedabad in 1996, where he helped India defend a target of 170 included 3 bursts of 2 wickets each. Interestingly, he was on a hatrick all 3 times, but failed to convert any of them. However, amidst very dubious umpiring often favouring India, he did manage to give India a 1-0 lead going into the 2nd match in Kolkata.

Azharuddin smacked the leather off the ball, Kolkata, 1996

South Africa was still smarting from the shock defeat they suffered in Ahmedabad, and it inspired them to produce a clinical performance in the 2nd match in Kolkata and knock the stuffing out of India. They romped home by 329 runs, then the biggest defeat in terms of runs for India at home.

But the match is now remembered not for the result but for the scintillating display of batting by Mohammad Azharuddin on the 3rd day of the match. With India at 161 for 7 facing South Africa’s 428, an injured Azhar, (he had suffered an injury in the match), decided to deal only in boundaries. What followed was magic; debutant Klusener was smashed for 5 fours in 1 over, reached his fifty in 35 balls and pulled Adams for a six to reach in century in 74 balls, then the 4th fastest century in all test cricket.

Sachin and Kumble – The Titans of India, Titan Cup, 1996

After losing 3 straight matches to South Africa in the Titan Cup league stage and somehow managing to outdo Australia for a spot in the final, India went into the match as underdogs. In front of a rousing crowd at Wankhede, Mumbai, Sachin Tendulkar, as he had often done, stood alone as wickets tumbled around him. His 67 was instrumental in getting India to a respectable total of 220, which was to prove too much for the Proteas as they crumbled on a turning track to Kumble’s variation and guile.

The 2 greatest match winners of Indian cricket had truly lived up to the hype.

Not quite tigers at home, 2000

South Africa is the only country (apart from Pakistan) against which India does not have a winning record at home in the last 25 years. Both teams have won 5 test matches each, with India winning 2 series and South Africa 1. Overall though, West Indies is the only team to win more matches than they have lost in India.

South Africa’s 2-0 win in 2000 was the first time since 1987 that India had lost a test series at home. During these 13 years, India played 14 test series at home, winning 10 and drawing the other 4.

Cronje turns Satan, 2000

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for the lack of a better word, is good - Michael Douglas in Wall Street

The point is, ladies and gentleman that greed brought the game to its knees in 2000 when Hansie Cronje, perhaps the most virtuous man in cricket, admitted to match fixing and was subsequently banned. There had been rumours before but this was the first time a cricketer had accepted the charge. Dark clouds hovered over the game and tough steps had to be taken but sadly, the powers that be, did not do enough to kill the evil. Match fixing is still rampant in cricket and Mohammed Amir, one of the brightest talents in the world fell prey to it in 2010.

Sehwag the marauder, Chennai 2008

Sehwag has always been a self-confessed Sachin fan, and he modelled his batting after the legend. But on a hot day in Chennai, Sachin would have wished he could bat like Viru. Against an attack comprising Steyn, Ntini and Morkel, he blitzed his way to 319 off just 304 balls, the quickest triple century ever. 42 boundaries and 5 mammoth sixes were the jewels of the knock.

Sachin breaks a 40 year old barrier, Gwalior, 2010:

It had to be him. The greatest batsmen our country has ever produced, the most prolific run scorer in cricket, the man with most centuries and the man who carried the team on his shoulders became the 1st man to make a double century in ODI cricket against South Africa in Gwalior, 2010. An innings studded with 25 fours and 3 towering sixes, Sachin took us back to the dust-storm in Sharjah, 1998 and reminded us that time may have slowed his reflexes, but his hunger for runs remained undiminished.

Steyn gunned into oblivion, Nagpur 2010

Dale Steyn has been the most fearsome fast bowler of his generation and a major part of his greatness is derived from his performances in India, often considered the graveyard for fast bowlers. His 5 wicket haul in Ahmedabad in 2008 dismissed India for 76 but his best was yet to come.

In the 1st match of the series in Nagpur, India was motoring along well at 221 for 4 when Steyn decided to take matters in his own hand. With the deadly combination of pace and swing, he took 7 for 51 and squeezed the air out of the much vaunted Indian batting. In a matter of 7 overs, India had collapsed from 221 for 4 to 233 all out, the match well and truly over for them.

Hashim Mountain Amla, 2010

Amla is one of the top batsmen in the world is common knowledge, but what is interesting and also frightening for India’s prospect in the coming 4 match series is that he averages 490, yes you read that right, 490 runs per dismissal in India.

In 3 innings in 2010, he reeled off successive scores of 253*, 114 and 123*, which means that he will be very difficult to uproot this time as well. If India has to do well, Ashwin will have to produce...

The T-20 ball of the century, Dhaka, 2014

In the T-20 World Cup Semi Final in 2014, India faced off against South Africa. India were trying to reach their second T-20 final after 2007 and South Africa aimed at their 1st ever WC final. South Africa batted first and Amla was set to take the game away from India, when Ashwin came onto bowl. After bowling a wide first up, he pitched the first legal bowl well outside the leg stump. The ball spun sharply, beat Amla’s bat and took his off stump. The carom ball had struck again. With their spirits revived, India restricted South Africa to an average score and riding on Kohli’s brilliant knock, entered the final.

T-20 ball of the century - Adam Gilchrist
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