As the Indian team plays a Test series in South Africa PARTAB RAMCHAND looks back on the five earlier such contests in that country
It was perhaps fitting that the first team to play South Africa in a Test series in that country since the lifting of apartheid was India. South Africa had made their comeback to international cricket after 21 years with a short tour of India in November 1991 to play three ODIs and the first home Test South Africa played since their last in March 1970 was against India at Durban in November 1992.
The historic tour consisted of four Tests, seven ODIs and a few other first class matches and was preceded by a short visit to Zimbabwe to play in that country’s inaugural Test.
With South Africa making their comeback to Test cricket after such a long period India were favourites.
But against that was India’s woeful record abroad while South Africa had already showed what they were capable of by making the semifinal of the World Cup in early 1992 and by giving West Indies a fight before going down in their first Test since their return in April that year.
Given this background it was perhaps not unexpected that South Africa won the four-Test series 1-0 besides outplaying India 5-2 in the ODIs.
The cricket was not particularly entertaining thanks to slow pitches and a negative approach. From the Indian viewpoint Praveen Amre got a hundred on debut at Durban while Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar too got hundreds.
Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath were the pick of the bowlers. For South Africa skipper Kepler Wesels and Hansie Cronje were the century makers while Allan Donald gave early indication of his greatness picking up 20 wickets including a match haul of 12 while shaping South Africa’s decisive victory at Port Elizabeth.
The series was a path breaking one in one more aspect in that it saw the introduction of independent umpires as also the first use of television replays to judge dismissals. Tendulkar became the first batsmen to be adjudged out when he was declared run out by the third umpire at Durban.
In Image: Praveen Amre.