South Africa vs India Test Series 2021: Five best matches between the teams in South Africa

The land of the rubies and diamonds, South Africa, has never really proven itself to be a happy hunting place for India. They won just 3 of the 20 Tests they played in this country, ranging over 7 different visits, and the first of those wins came in 2006, 14 years after their first trip […]
South Africa vs India Test Series 2021: Five best matches between the teams in South Africa

The land of the rubies and diamonds, South Africa, has never really proven itself to be a happy hunting place for India. They won just 3 of the 20 Tests they played in this country, ranging over 7 different visits, and the first of those wins came in 2006, 14 years after their first trip to the country.

Once again, Indians step into the same territory that has been so hostile to them over the years, but this time, the ambition is much stronger, so is the team. India were not very far away from a series win last time around, and perhaps losing the first Test whilst chasing just over 200 runs denied them a shot at history.

Things are far more complex for the Proteas, who are undergoing a series of problems, on and off the field. The SJN report released its verdict on players being shown racial prejudice by some of the biggest names, add to it the recent performances from the team which haven’t been up to the mark. This is perhaps their most glorious shot at registering a series win.

Their hunt kick-starts in less than a week, but before that, let’s recall the five best Tests played between these teams in South Africa.

South Africa vs India 2013 Series: When the Proteas fell 8 runs short of a world-record run-chase

South Africa vs India Test Series 2021

ABD and Faf’s 205-run partnership nearly helped South Africa break the world record for the highest run-chase in Test cricket.

This was India’s first game after the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar (December 2013), and South Africa’s first professional game after the death of Nelson Mandela. Virat Kohli made one of the most astounding hundreds of his career, registered 119 runs in the first innings, helping his side to 280 runs. A Zaheer-Ishant masterclass in fast bowler helped India gain a slender first-innings lead, and all 10 wickets were taken by the pacers, a rarity for India 8 years ago.

Virat Kohli nearly made it two centuries in the game but fell four runs short in the second innings. Cheteshwar Pujara, however, got to the mark and ended up scoring 153 off 270 deliveries, which got India to 421 runs in the innings, setting a target of 458 runs. To win this game, South Africa had to pull off the greatest-ever run-chase, and much to the disappointment of the sweating Indian fans, they nearly did.

South Africa vs India Test Series 2021: Five best matches between the teams in South Africa

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Alviro Peterson and Graeme Smith got a 100-run stand before Faf du Plessis, and AB de Villiers launched a stellar assault on Day 5. They had the required rate well under control, with wickets in hand. The hosts surpassed the 400 mark with a decent amount of time remaining, enticing a historic win, but Ishant Sharma dismissed AB de Villiers, shortly before Faf ran himself out.

South African tail decided to not go for a win in the final few overs despite the target being within reach, and they were 8 runs short in the end. The game finished in an exhilarating draw with the crowd unhappy with Steyn’s defensive approach, but it was one for the fans to cherish and remember.

South Africa vs India 1997 Series: The Sachin-Azhar assault in Cape Town

Not often do you get to have the great Nelson Mandela in the stadium, and perhaps Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin did not want to let this opportunity of a lifetime slide away in 1997. Their counter-attacking partnership after India were reduced to 58/5 perhaps only helped the side to avoid the follow-on, but it is one of the fondest of many Tendulkar and Azhar memories.

South Africa got 529 runs batting first, with Gary Kirsten, Brian McMillan, and Lance Klusenar getting centuries. The hosts rode past the top order with ease but couldn’t keep the storm out when the Hyderabadi and Mumbaikar got together. They added 222 runs in 40 overs, helping India get 359 runs. Sachin was the last to be dismissed after a sensational 159 run effort, whilst Azharuddin’s 115 came at a strike rate of more than 100.

Daryll Cullinan, Andrew Hudson, and Brian McMillan got the fifties in the second innings, helping negate India’s little momentum. They set a massive 427-run target, but managed just 127 runs, with both heroes from the first innings restricted to single digits. Whilst the game did not have a lot to offer for the Indian supporters, that little period over a session where they got more than 200 runs is talked about to this day.

South Africa vs India 2018 Series: Vernon Philander keeps India waiting for glory in Cape Town

Cape Town has been one of India’s most dreaded Test venues, and the side had lost 2 times in their 4 appearances here, drawing the other two. But Virat Kohli’s ferocious men came close to registering a historic win at the venue in December 2018. South Africa got 286 runs despite a top-order collapse, with AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis scoring fifties.

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The South African bowlers proved to be too feisty for the Indian contingent, who were staring at an embarrassing first innings total, but Hardik Pandya’s heroic 93-run knock got them to a total of 201. There was a small opening for the visiting unit and got much closer to a win with a sensational bowling effort in the second innings.

Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah picked 3 wickets each, as the hosts were bundled out for just 130 runs. India had 208 runs to chase, in clear sight of their most awaited win. However, Vernon Philander had other ideas. The fast bowler chipped in with a stupendous spell, picking up 6 wickets for the side, and had India bowled out for 135 runs. A Test full of ups and downs eventually swung towards the Safaris, providing the finest possible entertainment.

South Africa vs India 2006 Series: India’s first-ever Test win in South Africa

India celebrate the dismissal of Graeme Smith | Photo | India in South Africa |

Sreesanth picked up 8 wickets in the game, as India thumped South Africa by 123 runs.

After 14 long years, India finally got their first Test win in South Africa and as it turns out, the Indian head coach Rahul Dravid who will be chasing India’s first Test series win in that country led India to that iconic win in 2006. Ganguly’s half-century and some late blitz by VRV Singh helped the visiting side score 249 runs batting first.

This is where Sreesanth spearheaded one of India’s greatest bowling spells in those lands, registering figures of 5/40 in 10 overs, as the hosts were brutally bundled out for 84 runs. Anil Kumble and Zaheer picked 2 wickets each as well. VVS Laxman’s brilliant 73 combined with that healthy 165-run lead they took, helped India set a huge 402-run target.

South Africa had some momentary fight-backs, but the target was way too huge. Ashwell Prince was dismissed on 97 and was their highest scorer, as they were bowled out for 278 runs. Zaheer, Kumble, and Sreesanth picked 3 wickets each for the side, as Dravid became the first Indian captain to win a Test on the ruthless turf.

South Africa vs India 1997 Series: Cullinan to the rescue to prevent a historic win for India

Having lost the opening two Test matches in the 1996/97 tour, India were under tremendous pressure to avoid the whitewash. This is when the current head coach Rahul Dravid stepped in with a stupendous 148 when India batted first at the Bullring. Sourav Ganguly and Javagal Srinath made crucial contributions as well, which got India to 410 runs.

Having added 40-odd runs with the bat, Srinath chipped in with a five-fer with the ball and delivered a rememberable performance. It was the only innings in the series where none of the Proteas top six batters got a fifty and got bundled out for 321 runs. Dravid and Ganguly shone yet again in the second innings with the fifties, setting them a massive 356-run target with just over one day remaining.

The game was totally down to India vs time, and as it turned out, the latter emerged victorious and denied India their first Test win in South Africa by just 2 wickets. They got 228 runs for the loss of 8 wickets, with Daryll Cullinan scoring a sensational hundred, and the game finished in a draw. At 95/7, India nearly had one hand on the win, but they were eventually denied.