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5 memorable ODI encounters between India and South Africa

Sarah Waris
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
8.81K   //    Timeless

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is an oft-quoted adage that weaves its way into a handful of individuals for whom failure is never really an option. Defined by a competitiveness that overlooks all negativity, a champion announces his arrival with élan by reigning supremacy, displaying a valour and grit not witnessed amongst mere mortals.As with life, the above holds true for the sporting arena as well, where the fighters are distinguished from the challengers by a never say die attitude and a spirit that will not concede or accept defeat even when the situation essays otherwise.India and South Africa are two teams honoured to have witnessed a horde of players who went on to gain identity as legends of the game. Fighting tooth and nail for every triumph in each encounter, the battles between the two nations over the years have borne an intensity, which brings out the best in all the twenty-two players who take the field.Ever since the Proteas returned to the international cricket in 1991, the two teams have faced off 71 times in One Day Internationals with South Africa emerging winners on 42 occasions.Days before another anticipated series between the two countries gets underway, we have a look at the five memorable One Day International matches played between India and South Africa, best remembered for spirited performances by cricketers who turned the tides around for their respective teams.

#1 Tendulkar bowls India to a famous victory; India vs South Africa, Hero Cup 1993

When the bigwigs of Indian cricket shied away from defending 5 runs in the last over in the first semi-final of the Hero Cup in 1993, a 20-year-old showed remarkable courage in taking the ball from a flustered Mohamaad Azharuddin, the captain of the Indian team.  

In a move that left the vast expanse of the nation in shock and disbelief, Sachin Tendulkar volunteered to bowl the last over in a crucial match, even though famed teammates Kapil Dev and Javagal Srinath each had an over to spare.

With five deliveries left and with South Africa’s score reading 191 for 8, Tendulkar maintained a strict line and length, constantly deceiving Allan Donald, who had walked out to bat after Fanie de Villiers had been run out in the first ball while attempting a second run.

With 5 runs needed in the last 2 deliveries, Donald sneaked across for a single giving Brian McMillan, who was batting on 47, the strike. Unable to connect, the batsman could only manage a solitary run as the packed Eden Gardens erupted at the improbable victory handed over by a youngster just out of his teenage years. India won by 2 runs to advance to the final of the event.

Earlier, the Indian team collapsed for a paltry 195, a total made largely due to the efforts of Azharuddin’s knock of 90. Despite losing early wickets in their run chase, the South Africans were always in the driver’s seat.

With 54 runs needed and 5 wickets in hand, only a spirited performance by the Indian bowlers could have stopped Keppler Wessel’s team from rummaging through into the final. On that particular day, it was Tendulkar the bowler, who came to the party. 


#2 India grabs the opportunity after Gibbs is injured; India vs South Africa, Champions Trophy 2002

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Cricket they say is a game of glorious uncertainties. An inspired spell of bowling, a spirited knock in the middle or even an aggressive bout of fielding at times provides a team, which is inching closer to a loss, the impetus to go for the kill. At times, an injury at a crucial point of the game too helps revive the drooping shoulders, instilling in the team a belief that a game can still be in the pocket despite the prevalent situation.

The first semi-final of the Champions Trophy in 2002 played at Colombo between India and South Africa had a familiar script to offer the Proteas- a clinical performance early on, followed by a falter that ended in disappointment and heartbreak.

India, batting first, notched up a score of 261/9, courtesy a blistering knock from opener Virender Sehwag and a determined innings from Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Dravid, despite the regular fall of wickets.

South Africa looked on course for an appearance in the final after Herschelle Gibbs smashed his second consecutive ODI century, taking his team to a commanding position of 192/1 in 37 overs. With only 70 runs to win in 192 deliveries and with 9 wickets in hand, a comfortable victory looked well on the cards.

It is here that destiny presented the Indian team with a miniscule window of opportunity, one that was readily grabbed with both hands by the Men in Blue.

Gibbs, batting on a well-made 116 retired hurt after a series of cramps bogged him down, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Bowling and fielding as if their life depended on it, the Indian team recorded a sensational victory by 10 runs, a win which had streaks of determination written all over.

Sehwag dished out an impressive all round performance, picking up 3 wickets to go with his 59 runs. He had the dangerous Jacques Kallis dismissed in the last over in which 21 runs were needed, to send Ganguly’s troops into the summit clash as South Africa choked once again. 

#3 Steyn and Parnell stage a comeback only to fall a run short; India vs South Africa, Jaipur 2010

The first ODI between India and South Africa in Jaipur in 2010 was as much about a professional display of skills, flair and determination as it was about nervous moments and anxious instances.

Set a stiff target of 299 to win, South Africa huffed and puffed their way to reach an agonising 1 run short of the target. After openers Loots Bosman and Herschelle Gibbs gave South Africa an attacking start, the Indian bowlers, lead by all-rounder Ravinder Jadeja stalled the Proteas’ progress, reducing them to 180/7 in 35 overs.

With over 100 runs to get in 15 overs, the task looked cut out for the African nation. Jacques Kallis’ dismissal with South Africa still needing 74 runs in 7 overs provided the death knell for the team. Or so one thought.

With 62 runs needed in 30 balls, Wayne Parnell and Dale Steyn, considered novices with the willow, threw their bats at everything that came their way to take the equation down to 10 runs off the last over.

Praveen Kumar ended Steyn’s whirlwind knock of 35 in just 19 deliveries by cleverly uprooting his leg stump with four legitimate deliveries left.

With 7 needed in 2, new batsman Charles Langeveldt gave Parnell the strike after capering across for 3 runs and the equation came down to 3 in one delivery after Praveen bowled a wide.

With 2 runs needed to tie the game, Parnell scampered across for a second after he played the final delivery to third man, only to be excellently intercepted by Sreesanth, who ran out his opposite number, thus ensuring an enthralling one run win for Dhoni’s boys. 

#4 South Africa make a mess of an easy chase; India vs South Africa, Johannesburg 2011

Less than a year after a nail biting finish at Jaipur, the two countries were embroiled in yet another nerve-wracking match. Unlike the match in India, the dual at Johannesburg in 2011 was a low scoring affair, although it provided similar thrills and heart-stopping moments that one had witnessed ten months ago.

As India crumbled to 190 all out, cricket pundits unanimously accorded the match in the hosts’ favour. The story was going according to the plot until the 33rd over of the run chase, with Captain Graeme Smith’s dismissal marking the beginning of yet another South African collapse.

A sense of panic gripped the Proteas as they lost three wickets within the span of 25 runs. Despite the sudden stumble, the match looked well in South Africa’s kitty as a mere boundary separated the team from a victory in the 43rd over.

Bowling the decisive over where four runs were needed with 2 wickets in hand, Munaf Patel kept his nerves while bowling to Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell, who had stitched together a crucial partnership of 11 runs after a flurry of wickets, to take the home team within touching distance of the target.

With 3 runs needed, Morkel holed one straight to point. The equation- three needed for a victory with one wicket in hand.

Parnell seemed to be reliving the agonising Jaipur ODI as he failed to take his team to the finish line, falling for a short-of-the-length delivery with two runs needed for a victory. Munaf’s spell of 4/29 resulted in another thrilling finish for the Indians as the Africans fell to yet another dispirited defeat.

Ask South Africa the importance of one run in cricket! 

#5 A middle order collapse that handed India its sole defeat in the 2011 World Cup, Nagpur

The only match India failed to win was the Group B league encounter against South Africa in the 2011 Cricket World Cup 

Setting aside the ‘chokers’ tag that has plagued them in ICC events, the South African cricket team survived some frightening moments during a Group B encounter against hosts India in Nagpur during the 2011 World Cup, to cheekily sneak home by 3 wickets with two balls to spare.

Squandering the opportunity to race to a healthy 350, India, who found themselves at an excellent position at 267/1 in 40 overs, committed hara-kiri, bundling out for 296 in 48.4 overs.

Openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, who notched up his 99th international century, provided the team with an excellent start, bringing up 100 runs in just 12 overs, before a series of ill-timed shots and quirky, accurate bowling, especially by Dale Steyn, saw the fall of eight wickets within a span of 29 runs.

The run chase in the top-billed encounter saw the momentum swinging back and forth. Half centuries by Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers guided South Africa to a comfortable position, wherein 74 runs were needed off 57 balls, with 6 wickets in their kitty.

Regular fall of wickets in addition to a tight bowling spell from Yusuf Pathan and Zaheer Khan ensured that the target was a stiff but achievable 31 from 18 deliveries.

Munaf Patel staged a comeback of sorts by dismissing Johan Botha after he had smashed him for three consecutive boundaries, much to the dismay of a 45,000 strong crowd at the VCA stadium.

With Zaheer conceding just four runs in the penultimate over, the onus was on Ashish Nehra to guide India to their first triumph over South Africa in a World Cup by defending 13 runs in the 50th over.

Robin Peterson was South Africa’s unlikely hero with the bat, scoring 18 runs in a mere 7 balls, including a boundary and a six in the last over, to guide his team to safety, bagging vital points in the process. 

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Sarah Waris
SENIOR ANALYST
Spends her hours gorging on food and blabbering nineteen to the dozen, while awaiting the next Indian sporting triumph.
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