Maybe it’s the beautiful backdrop of the Table Mountains, there’s something about the Newlands cricket ground that has always inspired Sachin Tendulkar. He has got at least a half-century in each of the four Tests he has played at the venue, converting two of them into spectacular hundreds. The last time he played there, he got 146 against Dale Steyn and Co to help India draw a series for the first time in South Africa.
Given his average of 81.50 with scores of 73, 169 and 9, 64 and 14 and 146 and 14, it is among his favourite venues outside India. And if all goes to plan, it’s the venue where he will be playing his 200th Test.
According to the schedule of matches released by Cricket South Africa on Monday, the three Tests on the tour will be played at Kingsmead (Durban), Sahara Park Newlands (Capetown) and the Wanderers (Johannesburg). Tendulkar is on 198 Tests and is poised to become the first man to play 200 Tests. Like each of his four previous Tests at Newlands, this one will also be played on the same dates, starting January 2.
Prof Andre Odendaal, CEO of the Newlands-based Western Province Cricket Association, told HT there was great excitement at the news: “It’s an amazing thing for us that Tendulkar, one of the true greats of the game, will be playing his 200th Test at Newlands. It is also fitting for we have great memories of the earlier occasions he played here as well.
He scored a superb century in 2011 and in 1997 he had a breathtaking partnership with Azharuddin. It also brings us the memories of the great Nelson Mandela, at a time when he is not well, for here Tendulkar had met Mandela during India’s first-ever visit in 1992-93. We have a beautiful picture that captures the meeting,” said Odendaal, who was also the founding director of the Robben Islands museum project when the prison was shut and turned into a national museum in honour of Mandela.