2021 has been a fantastic one for Indian Test cricket. Having started the year on a massive high after defeating Australia in their own backyard, India went on to thump England 3-1 at home.
The Virat Kohli-led team then went on to partake in the inaugural World Test Championship final and also took a 2-1 lead in the away series against England. Team India also extended their 2021 dominance by defeating New Zealand 1-0 in the home series in early December.
As the men in blue gear up to face the Proteas in their final assignment of 2021, they face perhaps the stiffest challenge of them all. South Africa has been a team India have never been able to conquer to date. With just three match wins in seven different series, the Indians certainly have had a tough time in South Africa.
Despite a track record that they would not be very proud of, India have notched up some remarkable individual performances in the land of the Proteas over the years.
On that note, we take a trip down memory lane to the three best Test innings played by Indians on South African soil.
#3. Kapil Dev's 129 (Port Elizabeth - 1992/93)
The 1992-93 series was the first ever Test series to be contested between South Africa and India. Having drawn the first two tests of the four-match series, the intensity of the series had risen tremendously by the time the third game came around.
Having succumbed under pressure from the South African bowlers, India were on the cusp of an embarrassing innings defeat after being reduced to 27/5 in their second batting innings.
Enter Kapil Dev—he changed the course of the game completely and gave the South African bowling unit a real run for their money with an absolute batting masterclass. Dev ended up scoring a fantastic 129 off just 180 deliveries, including 14 fours and a six to ensure that South Africa had a respectable total to chase down in the fourth innings.
Even though India were eventually forced to concede defeat in the game, Kapil Dev's blitzkrieg will always be regarded as one of the best batting performances by an Indian on South African soil.
#2. Sachin Tendulkar's 169 (Cape Town - 1996/97)
In the mid 1990s, Sachin Tendulkar had already made a massive impression on the cricketing world through his batting performances. In the Cape Town Test of the 1996 series, India were down to 58/5 before Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin came to the rescue. The batting duo stitched together a massive 222-run partnership, doing so in the span of just 40 overs to bail team India out of trouble.
While Azharuddin scored a fantastic 115 and supported the partnership brilliantly, the real hero of the match was Sachin Tendulkar. The master blaster hit 26 boundaries and one six in his 6 hour-long watch at the crease. During his enthralling innings, a young Sachin Tendulkar took great bowlers like Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener to the cleaners with ease and grace. His innings helped India avoid a follow-on and push the game towards a result.
#3. Virat Kohli's 119 (Johannesburg - 2013/14)
Still early in his career, a young Virat Kohli walked out to bat at No. 4 for team India in the 2013/14 Johannesburg Test—previously Sachin Tendulkar's position. With humongous shoes to fill, Virat Kohli's first outing as a No. 4 batsman for India proved to be an absolute game changer for Indian cricket as well as Virat Kohli himself.
Kohli, with his glorious strokeplay and wrist movement, stamped his authority over the deadly South African pace attack during his time at the crease. While the rest of the Indian batting unit tumbled against the bowling of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, Virat Kohli stood rock solid at the crease and glided his way through to a brilliant score of 119.
The current Test captain then followed his knock with a fine 96 in the second innings. It is interesting to note that Kohli fell just four runs short of becoming one of the very few batsmen to score a century in both innings of an away Test match.