Ahead of India’s upcoming Test series against South Africa, let’s look at India’s previous tours of South Africa in past years. South Africa have hosted India so far in seven Test series starting from 1992. Here comes the first part that talks about the first three tours.
During their pre-apartheid days South Africa never played Test cricket with any of the coloured nations and it was fitting that after making their comeback, their first away Test series was against West Indies and their first home Test series was against India. After almost one year since South Africa made their return at the Eden Gardens, the first ever official Indian team reached the South African shore under the captaincy of Mohammad Azharuddin.
In many ways it was a memorable series for both the teams. In the first ever Test matches between these two teams at Kingsmead, Durban Kapil Dev started the Test match with a wicket on the very first ball of the debutant Jimmy Cook. The debutant Pravin Amre had a memorable century and Kepler Wessels became the first batter to score a century for two countries as the Test match ended in a draw. Sachin Tendulkar also made another entry to the record book by being the first ever batter to be given out with the help of third umpire.
Two of the next three Test matches were also ended in draw as South Africa won the series 1-0 thanks to their 9-wicket win in Port Elizabeth. A fighting Kapil Dev hundred also could not save India. India played quite well in the other two Test matches and Tendulkar established himself as an all-condition player with a Test century in Johannesburg.
India next toured South Africa in 1996 with a relatively young team. The Sachin Tendulkar-led side was a young unit with future greats like Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly in the first year of their international careers. Indians were blown away by the South African fast bowlers led by Allan Donald in the first Test at Kingsmead as South Africa recorded a 328-run win. On a green, fast pitch Indian team were bowled out for 100 and 66 in their two innings.
Indian team faired relatively better in the second Test at Newlands, but despite a memorable 169 runs from Tendulkar which also included a masterful partnership between him and Azharuddin India still lost the Test match by 282 runs.
India had a real great chance of winning the Test match on day five. Thanks to Dravid’s maiden Test century, India was on driver’s seat from the beginning. They set up a target of 356 for the hosts in the fourth innings and got them on the role with the score on 95/7 but a match saving hundred from Daryll Cullinan and some dodgy umpiring call regarding the condition of lights nearing the end of days play helped South Africa to save the Test match.
The 2001 series was one of the most controversial in the recent history thanks to the entire Mike Denness incident. The first Test again saw a brilliant hundred from Tendulkar who got a good support from the debutant Virender Sehwag who also scored his maiden Test hundred. However, a mediocre bowling performance resulted in a 9-wicket victory for South Africa.
The second Test in Port Elizabeth ended in a draw thanks to some determined batting from the Indians on day five led by Rahul Dravid. However, controversy erupted when the match referee Denness suspended multiple Indian players from excessive appealing and also handed over a suspended sentence against Tendulkar for ball tampering. The Indian players and the board did not accept these verdicts and got the support from their media and even from the hosts. A tussle between BCCI and ICC resulted in the third Test to be given an unofficial status as the final series result was read 1-0 in the favour of the hosts.