India's Cape Town horror: 6 Tests, 0 wins and 'whole country up against 11 guys' | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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India's Cape Town horror: 6 Tests, 0 wins and when the 'whole country played against 11 guys'

Jan 03, 2024 06:44 AM IST

India have a pretty dismal record at Cape Town and they would have to play out of their skins to change it in the second Test starting January 3.

It's no secret that India have never won a Test series in South Africa. They won't this time around either. But if there's an opportunity to bag a consolation prize, it's now. Of India's eight tours of South Africa, they've lost all but one series – in 2010/11, when under MS Dhoni, the two-Test series ended in a 1-1 draw. The dream of registering a series win in SA will have to wait for now, but given the thrashing India were handed in Centurion last week, a drawing the series win a victory in Cape Town will be as celebrated as a series win.

Indian cricketers during a practice session ahead of the second Test match between India and South Africa, at Newlands, Cape Town(PTI)
Indian cricketers during a practice session ahead of the second Test match between India and South Africa, at Newlands, Cape Town(PTI)

But wait, there's a catch, a huge trivia breathing down India's neck. And that is their record at the Newlands Stadium. India have drawn two Tests and lost three but never won a game at Cape Town. For a team that achieved almost everything last year, a win promises to go a long way in keeping them in a positive mindset ahead of the five-match Test series against England starting January 25. But in order to do so, India will have to battle history, their track record at the venue and improve their own form among other things.

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Here's presenting a lowdown of India's all five Tests played in Newlands, Cape Town

1992: Match drawn

Javagal Srinath was the star for India in this stalemate, rising up to the challenge with a match-haul of 6 wickets way back in the mid-1990s. Half-centuries from Jonty Rhodes and Brian McMillan, along with healthy contributions from the lower order propelled South Africa to 370/9 declared. In reply, even though Manoj Prabhakar and Sachin Tendulkar notched up a fifty each, India fell a good 114 runs behind, getting bowled out for 276. South Africa's push for a healthier lead was halted by Srinath, who claimed 4/33, setting India a target of 244. But due to lack of time remaining in the game, India could only reach 29/1 when the honours were shared.

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1997: India lost by 282 runs

India were handed their first Test defeat in Cape Town with South Africa outplaying them on all days barring one. South Africa muscled their way to 529/7 declared with Gary Kirsten, Brian McMillan and Lance Klusener smashing centuries – Klusener's 100 came batting at No. 9. As India began their quest to climb this herculean mountain, their top order was in for a rude awakening as it was shredded down to 58/5. The one period of India's domination thus began as Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin stitched a then-record partnership of 222. Tendulkar was the last man out, his 169 doing more than enough to ensure South Africa batted again. Srinath took 3/78 but SA's 256/6 declared meant that India were set 427. Those days, 420-plus was considered next to unachievable and rightly so. India's batting capitulated and they were blown away for 144.

2007: Lost by 5 wickets

During the 2006/07 tour, India created history by winning their first-ever Test match on South Africa soil, but their joy was short lived as The Proteas pulled it back in Durban, setting the stage for the Decider in Cape Town. Indian batting rose to the occasion, with Wasim Jaffer hitting a sparkling century and Dinesh Karthik, Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly peeling off fifties. Anil Kumble's 4/117 even gave India a lead of 41 runs, but their batting in the second innings led the team down as they got bowled out for just 169 with Dale Steyn grabbing 4/30. India fought hard and pushed South Africa to have them 4 down for 132 but Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince ensured India would have to wait for their maiden series win in SA.

2011: Match drawn

Jacques Kallis stole the show with twin centuries in this Newlands Test. But if Kallis was on a roll, Tendulkar lit up the series with his 51st and final Test ton. Surprisingly, batting Kallis and Tendulkar, the next best was Gautam Gambhir's 93 and the only other half-century belonged to Mark Boucher. The bowlers had a blast though. Harbhajan Singh scalped 7/120. Steyn took 5/75 and S Sreesanth also chipped in with 5/114. But despite all of this collective brilliance, a result was unable to be pushed out. Still India was the happier team of the two, managing to draw a Test series for the first time in South Africa.

2018: Lost by 72 runs

Five years later, when under Virat Kohli, India toured the land of the Proteas, hopes were high. However, the result remained the same as India crumbled in their chase of 207. South Africa posted 286 in the first innings thanks to half-centuries from AB de Villiers and captain Faf du Plessis. Hardik Pandya's blistering 93 off 95 was the only innings from substance in India's 209. SA's hopes of swelling their lead was dashed by the Indian pace attack, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, debutant Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya accounting for all 10 South African wickets for just 130. India had a real shot at clinching this one, needing to chase down just a little over 200, but the same story unfolded and Vernon Philander sliced through the Indian batting order, finishing with 6/42 to bowl India out for 135.

2022: Lost by 7 wickets

In what turned out to be Kohli's last match as India captain, another opportunity went begging. Kohli's 79 was the lone fight in India's first-innings total of 223, after which Bumrah's 5/42 set the game up beautifully. Rishabh Pant stood out with a wonderfully-crafted century but as the rest of the Indian batters failed miserably – the next best was Kohli's 29 – India could only set South Africa 212. Given what India – especially their bowlers had achieved under Kohli – there was a belief that it was defendable. They had done it just the year before in England twice, but in a bizarre turn of events, India's bowlers appeared clueless and listless in the final innings.

A team that had made picking 20 wickets a habit, looked at a loss for ideas. Controversy unfolded on the penultimate day, with Kohli, KL Rahul and Ravichandran Ashwin venting their frustration on broadcaster SuperSport via the stump mic, leading to the infamous 'whole country playing against 11 guys' remark, when Dean Elgar was given not out. Credit to Keegan Petersen's 82 and Rassie van der Dussen's 41 for maintaining a steady head and taking the series 2-1.

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