Five close victories India snatched from South Africa
A historic series under of name of two legendary freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela will be going to underway on October 2 with a three-match T20 series which is scheduled to start in Dharamsala. Both countries shared same struggle to earn the freedom from their colonial father.
Recognising that similarity deceased BCCI boss Jagmohan Dalmiya hosted anti apartheid era South Africa, who were free to participate in international cricket after 22 years band, at Eden Gardens being the first in the World. Clive Rice led South Africa played their first match of the apartheid-era regime under the Premiership of Nelson Mandela. Since then India and South Africa continue their bilateral series. Now, as the longest series between these two countries is going to happen. Both, Cricket South Africa and Board of Control for Cricket named the series Gandhi-Mandela in order to give it a historic status. Both countries played 71 One Day International matches. Both countries produced some blood rushing matches. So, here I am going to pick five of the best matches that were close.
1.Kochi 1999, India won by 3 wickets, two balls remaining
A new generation of South Africa team, which has dominated cricket till retirement, was young and aggressive, brutal and the athletic in their approach were playing their first ODI in their second India tour in the 90’s. Garry Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs, two openers battered Indian bowlers on their way to hundreds. A 235 runs partnership between the two openers anchored South Africa to 301 for 3 at the Nehru Stadium, in the port city of Kerela, Kochi. One of the surprising things happened in South Africa’s innings was that Rahul Dravid took two wickets conceding just 43 runs in 9 overs.
Shaun Pollock and captain Hansie Cronje and Jaques Kallis rattled the Indian middle order. So, South Africa did their half job. But Ajay Jadeja, who used to not bother about the pressure visibly, butchered the South African bowling attack playing a match changing 92. Shrinking ship of India found one player who could anchor them safe in the port. Robin Singh, another batsman assisted him and ensure the victory for India after Jadeja departure. With Anil Kumble, Robin Singh finished the match with three balls remaining.
2. Jaipur 2010, India won the match by 1 run
This was South Africa’s fourth India tour. The three-match series started in Jaipur. India batting first put a competitive 298 runs on the board. But, on Indian pitch this total was not difficult to chase. South African batsman Jaques Kallis put South Africa on a bus that was gradually closing to the finishing mark. But, S. Sreesanth and Ashish Nehra picked up three quick wickets of Alviro Petersen, Albie Morkel and Mark Boucher to squeeze South Africa’s chance. India perhaps thought they were just a few overs to clean up the tail enders. Suddenly, Wayne Parnell and Dale Steyn started building a cameo partnership. When Kallis was bowled by Sreesanth Proteas were 225 for 8, Steyn was bowled by Parveen Kumar when South Africa were 290 for 9, and only four balls left and needed nine runs. Parnell tried, but, he fell on the last ball of the innings while attempting a single to level the score. Sreesanth’ throw did not miss gloves of Dhoni. India took a breath as one run victory helped India to take lead the series.
3. Gwalior, Sachin Tendulkar’s 200* in 2010
India made a mockery of the South African bowlers. Toss decided the fate of the match. India won the toss and chose to bat first. If South Africa could have won it then, the history might not happen. India lost only three wickets and Virender Sehwag was the only batsman who could not score double figure. But, when Parnell sent him back India had 25 runs on the board in 3. 5 overs. Tendulkar was piercing the ball for boundaries. Dale Steyn, Kallis and Charl Langeveldt looked hapless in front of Sachin bat. On the other end, Dinesh Karthik was anchoring the innings when Sachin was punishing South African bowlers. However, Karthik too joined Sachin as he hit four boundaries and three massive sixes in this textile city. When Karthik departed his score was 79 off 85 and India were 219 for 2 in 33.2 overs. Since then, India added 61 runs in just 40 balls. A massive total India was going to put on board. Packed captain Roop Singh stadium had gone mad, but they probably did not expect that they were going to witness a dream come true moment. Sachin shifted his gear and produced a dazzling display of top-class stroke play to become the first man to score a double-century in a one-day international, and sealed India’s series victory as South Africa lost the match by 153 runs. South Africa were bundled out for 248 far away from India’s total 401.
4. Johannesburg, New Wanders, 2011, India won by 1 run
This time, India were touring South Africa, just before the ICC World Cup 2011. South Africa handed India a 135 runs defeat in the first ODI. But, in the second ODI at New Wanders India batting first scored mere 190. Another defeat was looming, but Indian bowlers did a brilliant job as they did not let South Africa batsmen to open their hand for big shots. Amla was the first victim of for Munaf. Graeme Smith was looking ominous for India at one stage Patel gave the breakthrough. Zaheer Khan, picked up the wickets of David Miller and Johan Botha while Ashish Nehra scalped AB de Villiers. But, South Africa managed to rotate their strike and were close to victory. Patel once again broke the Protea resistance as he Wayne Parnell and Morne Morkel, who were trying to spoil the India’s celebration. South Africa needed one run to level the score, but Yuvraj Singh made sure Steyn did not reach his mark. So, India notched up a thrilling one-wicket victory.
5. Newlands, Cape Town, 2011 India won by 2 wickets
World Cup was knocking at the door, so selection had become the biggest issue. India levelled the series with historic bounce back in the last match. So, entering into the third match of the series many things was surrounded at Newlands match. Indian bowlers once again did an outstanding job as Zaheer Khan Munaf Patel and spinner Harbhajan Singh decimated South Africa’s innings for 220. JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis’s sticked together a 110 runs partnership was key to South Africa’s total. But, India suffered yet another batting collapse as Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel wrecked havoc on Indian middle order.
However, Suresh Raina and Yusuf Pathan defied South Africa’s attack and built a 75 runs partnership. Although, Raina was trapped by the ploy of Morkel’ short bowling. Yusuf Pathan, however, was nonchalant on his 59 run innings comprised of 3 sixes and 6 fours. Steyn gave South Africa important breakthrough, by scalping destructive Pathan. India’s innings looked come to an end. But, once again Harbhajan and Zaheer took rein to do the rest of the job. A 26 runs partnership between them put India close to the victory. But, you can’t expect Ashish Nehra will win the match for India. Harbhajan knew that it would be a blunder to let Nehra bat. So, he hit two big sixes and sealed the two-wicket victory for India.