Since the mid-2000, Indian cricket team maintained a very good relationship with Cricket South Africa and also toured the country four times and currently on their 5th tour since 2006. They have also won their first ever Test match on South African soil in this period and also ended a series with a draw for the first time.
After a devastating loss in the ODI series, Indians found some confidence when beat the hosts in their first ever T20 International. Before the Test series the return of ex-captain Sourav Ganguly made all the headlines and Ganguly made a memorable return to international cricket with a typical gritty half-century mostly batting with the tail. A great bowling performance from Shanthakumaran Sreesanth who picked up a fifer in the first innings to bowl out South Africa for 84 and overall 8 wickets in the match took India to their first ever Test win on South African soil. In the same Test, Sreesanth was part of another interesting incident when he got into dancing moves after hitting Andre Nel for a six after a heated exchange.
However, the home team pace attack of Shaun Pollock, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Nel was proved to be too strong for the Indians who lost the next two Test matches and the series 2-1.
India’s next tour of South Africa was just before the 2011 World Cup and lots of focus were on the limited over leg. But before that India performed pretty well in the Test series. In his fifth and last tour of South Africa, Sachin Tendulkar brought his fiftieth Test century while trying to save the Test match after Jacques Kallis first Test double hundred and centuries from Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers took the host to 620/4 declared in the first innings. A valiant partnership from Tendulkar and MS Dhoni was not enough as India lost the match early on day five.
However, the tourists made a strong comeback in the very next Test match. This match can be remembered as Laxman’s Test as the stylish Hyderabadi top scored for India in both the innings and his 96 in the second innings was part of Indian cricket folklore for its quality. Along with Laxman’s Heroics some great bowling by Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth helped them to register their second Test win by 87 runs.
The third and final Test match of the series was ended in a draw as both the greats Kallis and Tendulkar added one more century in their illustrated career. As a result, this was first and only instance till now when India returned from South Africa being undefeated in the Test series.
India’s 2013 tour of South Africa was their first ever tour in 24 years without the presence of Sachin Tendulkar. Virat Kohli got the coveted number four position in his absence and showed that he is a worthy contender with his 119 in the first innings. It was an interesting Test match where India took a 36-run lead followed by a second innings total of 421 thanks to Cheteshwar Pujara’s 153. Thanks to a Faf du Plessis century South Africa reached very close to the target and at one stage all four results looked possible and finally the match ended with South Africa on 450/7. 8 runs away from the target and Indians just 3 wickets away from a win.
Before the second Test, Kallis announced that the next Test will be the last in his long, glorious career. He celebrated his final match with a century and became just the third South African to achieve that feat. The young Indian tried their best but could not stop the hosts to give Kallis a fitting farewell with a 10-wicket win.
India has another relatively young team in their last tour of South Africa. Jashprit Bumrah made his Test cricket debut in the first match of the tour. India had a great start of the match when they had the hosts on the mat with the score on 12 for 3. However, the experience of de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock took South Africa to a respectable total before Indian batting line faltered in both the innings to give South Africa a 72-run victory. Wriddhiman Saha put his name in the record books as the first Indian with 10 catches in a Test match.
India lost the second Test match also despite a brilliant 153 by the captain Virat Kohli. The South African pacers were relentless and the newcomer Lungi Ngidi picked up 6/39 in the second innings to bowl out India for just 151 and helped his team win the match by 135 runs.
The Indians finally Tested success in the third Test at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. In a low scoring Test match Bumrah picked up his first ever Test five wicket haul in the South African first innings. Mohammed Shami them picked up a five-wicket haul in their second innings to bowl South Africa out for just 177 runs and took Indians to a 63-run win.
A 2-1 series result was a true indicator of the close fight between the teams but the Indian players must had felt it was a chance missed for them for a series win and will look to get that elusive Test series win in South Africa in the 2021 tour.