AT 19 minutes past noon on Monday, 14 years of a symbolic exile ended as India beat South Africa by 123 runs to win a historic first ever Test here. It was 14 years ago, in October 1992, that Mohammad Azharuddin became the first skipper to lead an official Test team to South Africa post-isolation.
As Makhaya Ntini lost patience and mistimed Zaheer Khan for Virender Sehwag to complete a simple catch for victory, the celebrations began.
Champagne, beer and orange juice flowed freely as a boisterous Indian team wildly celebrated a moment richly deserved — after all, this win has come against the odds and form.
Skipper Rahul Dravid, who moved from being matter-of-fact to laughingly admitting he might be a bit tipsy, said it was an outstanding all-round effort.
While man of the match S. Sreesanth came in for high praise, Dravid also singled out Sourav Ganguly for a “fantastic” effort. “He’s been batting beautifully,” said Dravid.
In fact, the Test was significant for more than the win. It was also about individual stories: the return of Ganguly and Khan, a statement by VVS Laxman and the emergence of Sreesanth.