South Africa defeated India by five wickets at Cape Town to claim the three-match series 2-1. India took the lead in the series by winning the first Test at Johannesburg by 123 runs.
South Africa made amends by winning the Durban Test by 174 runs and then came back strongly in the Cape Town Test - after conceding first innings lead - to take away the series.
How unusual is the feat of winning a three-match Test series after losing the first Test? Well, an in-depth study into all three-match series played in the Test annals reveals that a total of 198 such rubbers have been contested from July 1884 to January 2007 by ten Test-playing countries, resulting in 154 rubbers ending decisively in favour of a team, with 44 more rubbers shared - 28 of them by a 1-1 scoreline and 16 by a 0-0 margin.
The accompanying tabular summary gives the country-wise break-up of these 198 three-Test rubbers under the four outright-win categories of 3-0,2-0,2-1 and 1-0, as also the two categories of shared or squared rubbers by a margin of 1-1 and 0-0.
Tabular summary of the 198 three-Test series from 1888 to 2007
A further scrutiny of these 198 three-Test rubbers reveals that only seven times before South Africa-India series has a side gone on to win the series after losing the first Test -truly an incredible feat!
The first instance had taken place way back in August 1888 over a 118 years ago in England, when WG Grace took over the captaincy to lead England to victory in the second Test at the Oval and the third Test at Manchester after the first Test at Lord's under the captaincy of AG Steel had been lost to Australia.
The second such instance occurred after a wait of almost 106 years and a half. However, with in a span of next nine months, this unusual feat was achieved on two more occasions.
The fifth and sixth instances took place in Sri Lanka as hosts won one and lost one series in this fashion. The seventh and last instance came in India when India turned the tables on Australia in one of the most exciting series ever played.
The following table gives details of instances when a side won a three-match series after losing the first Test:
|August, 1888||in England||Eng 2, Aus 1|
|January, 1995||in South Africa||SA 2, NZ 1|
|February, 1995||in Zimbabwe||Pak 2, Zim 1|
|September, 1995||in Pakistan||SL 2, Pak 1|
|June, 1998||in Sri Lanka||SL 2, NZ 1|
|March, 2001||in Sri Lanka||Eng 2, SL 1|
|March, 2001||in India||Ind 2, Aus 1|
|January, 2007||in South Africa||SA 2, Ind 1|
Note: Pakistan played three Tests in India in 1998-99, but the same is not taken into account here since the original series comprised of only two matches. The third encounter between the two sides was the first Test of Asian Test Championship.