Five best India-South Africa ODIs

The first match of the five-game ODI series between India and South Africa in Kanpur on October 11 will be the 72nd clash between the two sides. Sachin Tendulkar, who has played 57 ODIs against the Proteas, recently said that he has "never played against a South Africa side which is just an okay side."

Tendulkar (centre), Ankola (extreme left), Azharuddin, Jadeja, Amre exult after India beat South Africa by two runs, in the Hero Cup semi-final one day international cricket match, at the Eden Gardens, Calcutta on November 24, 1993. McMillan (front) and Donald walk back to the pavilion dejectedly.   -  V. V. KRISHNAN

Virender Sehwag shone with the bat and the ball against South Africa in the Champions Trophy semi-finals in Colombo in September, 2002.   -  REUTERS

Sachin Tendulkar being congratulated by South Africa's Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers for his double century in the second one-day international cricket match in Gwalior in February 2010.   -  PTI

Yusuf Pathan in action during the fifth and final One-Day International cricket match at the SuperSport Park in Centurion, South Africa, on January 23, 2011. Pathan cracked a 68-ball hundred, but failed to take India to victory.   -  AP

Shikhar Dhawan celebrates after scoring a century against South Africa during their Cricket World Cup Pool B match in Melbourne on February 22, 2015.   -  AP

The first match of the five-game ODI series between India and South Africa in Kanpur on October 11 will be the 72nd clash between the two sides. Sachin Tendulkar, who has played 57 ODIs against the Proteas, recently said that he has “never played against a South Africa side which is just an okay side.”

The South Africans with their competitive brand of cricket have always been formidable opponents and the Indians have a lopsided 26-42 win-loss record against them. The two teams, however, have played some memorable matches since their first ODI encounter on November 10, 1991 at the Eden Gardens. This, incidentally, was South Africa’s first representative match since their suspension from the sport in 1970 due to the apartheid policy.

This is Sportstar’s five best:

Sachin pulls off a last over heist

Eden Gardens (Kolkata), November 1993. Hero Cup semi-finals: India won by 2 runs.

The iconic venue hosted its first match under lights and the stadium was swarmed with people and insects. Smoke bombs were employed to get rid of the pesky flies and a young Tendulkar handed India an unlikely win. Despite beating the South Africans with relative ease in their previous encounter, India couldn’t afford to be complacent. Chasing a modest 196 to get to the final, South Africa slid from 106 for four to 145 for seven, thanks to some tight bowling from Anil Kumble and Ajay Jadeja. But, Brian McMillan, alongside wicketkeeper Dave Richardson, put up a stiff resistance and took South Africa to the doors of victory. The team needed six runs in the last over and had two wickets in hand.

The Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin, however, had kept all his options available except Anil Kumble. Javagal Srinath, Manoj Prabhakar, and Kapil Dev had two overs each. Salil Ankola had four. Even Jadeja, who picked up two wickets, had an over remaining. But Azhar, in a major gamble, threw the ball to Sachin, who was to bowl his first over in the match.

First ball: A mix-up resulted in the run out of Fanie de Villiers and brought Allan Donald to the crease. The next three balls: dot, dot, dot. The next ball, Donald managed to return the strike to McMillan. Final ball. Four to win. Tendulkar bowled full. McMillan failed to connect. Eden Gardens erupted.

Sehwag shines with bat and ball, as South Africa chok… er, implode

R. Premadasa Stadium (Colombo), September 2002. ICC Champions Trophy Semi-Finals: India won by 10 runs.

A resurgent, young Team India, fresh from their famous Natwest Series win in England, was one of the favourites to win the Champions Trophy in 2002. They reached the semis after brushing aside Zimbabwe and England.

Virender Sehwag gave the start that Sourav Ganguly would have hoped for when he opted to bat after winning the toss. Sehwag took on the pace trio -- Donald, Pollock, and Ntini -- to score a run-a-ball half century.

Then, three wickets fell for 35 runs, putting India in a precarious position of 135-4. But Rahul Dravid (49) and Yuvraj Singh (62) anchored the innings, taking India to a fighting total of 261.

Herschelle Gibbs then came out and tried to make a mockery of the chase as he toyed with the Indian bowling. After Greame Smith’s departure, Kallis joined Gibbs and the pair made 178 runs for the second wicket. As India were desperately searching for a wicket, Gibbs retired with cramps in both his hands.

After 37 overs, South Africa were 192-1 with just 70 required from 78 balls. Kallis and Rhodes at the crease. Boucher, Klusener, Dippenaar, and Pollock yet to come. Piece of cake. But South Africa did what they are infamous for: they imploded.

Harbhajan Singh struck twice in the 39th over, sending back Rhodes and Dippenaar, making the Proteas lose their momentum.

With 21 runs needed off the last six balls, Sehwag gave away just 10 and got Kallis and Klusener out to put India in their first Champions Trophy final.

Sachin scales Mt. 200

Captain Roop Singh Stadium (Gwalior), February 2010. South Africa-India bilateral ODI series: India won by 153 runs.

India posted its third 400+ total in ODIs. The Indian skipper, M. S. Dhoni scored an unbeaten 68 off 37 balls. AB de Villiers fought back in the chase with an unbeaten 114. But the match will be primarily remembered for one reason: Sachin Tendulkar’s ODI double hundred.

On what seemed to be a batting paradise, Dhoni took no time to decide after winning the toss. Sachin began aggressively, opening his account with a drive wide of mid-off. Wayne Parnell bowled the next one on the pads and Sachin duly dispatched it to the mid-wicket boundary.

Sehwag fell, trying to hit down the ground. But Sachin was hardly bothered. He flayed Dale Steyn, Charles Langeveldt, and Parnell to all corners for boundaries.

Ably supported by Dinesh Karthik, Sachin relentlessly attacked the South African bowling, putting up 194 runs for the second wicket. He brought up his 46th ODI ton by the end of the 28th over.

After Karthik’s dismissal, Sachin was joined by Yusuf Pathan. The duo scored at over 10 runs per over before Pathan holed out a catch to de Villiers.

Sachin was on 168, when Dhoni joined him in the middle in the 42nd over with 300 runs on the board. The little master paced his innings brilliantly, scoring plenty of ones and twos even towards the later stages of the innings.

Meanwhile, Dhoni ensured that South Africa’s suffering didn’t reduce. Even Dale Steyn was treated with utter disdain. The 49th over bowled by him went for 17 runs.

Final over, third ball. Dhoni gave the strike to Sachin, who was on 199. The maestro steered a full length delivery by Langeveldt behind point for a single. At 37, Sachin Tendulkar accomplished what no other batsman could do in 2961 ODIs played before!

When Yusuf Pathan’s 68-ball ton wasn’t enough to win

SuperSport Park (Centurion), January 2011. India-South Africa bilateral series: South Africa won by 33 runs (D/L method).

After being reduced to 74 for six in a 268-run chase, rain seemed to be the only desperate hope for India. Then, Yusuf Pathan came; he saw; and almost conquered.

The usually reckless Pathan took his time to settle unlike most of his fellow batsmen, who fell cheaply trying to be extravagant. He was batting on 12 when Harbhajan, the best (read: the only one who can bat) of the tailenders, got out for 13, with India needing 171 more from 27 overs.

Pathan carried on batting, punishing the loose deliveries and rotating the strike with Zaheer. He reached his half-century in 47 balls. But with the increasing run-rate and the risk of putting Zaheer on strike, Pathan decided to do what he can do best: attack.

From 53 off 47, it took Pathan only 20 more deliveries to reach his hundred. The 34th over bowled by Lonwabo Tsotsobe was plundered for 21 runs, Pathan hitting a couple of fours and two monstrous sixes.

In the next over by Morne Morkel, Pathan, looking to clear the boundary again, fell for 105. The target was brought down to 49 off 66. But, as mentioned earlier, Harbhajan was the best of the Indian tailenders and he had gone.

Earlier, Man-of-the-Match Hashim Amla batted beautifully to score an unbeaten hundred, helping South Africa post 250.

Dhawan’s 137 helps India overpower South Africa

Melbourne Cricket Ground (Melbourne), February 2015. ICC World Cup Group Stages: India won by 130 runs.

Unless the margin of victory is very high, one must exercise enough caution against using words like ‘overpower’ to describe an Indian win against a South African side.

With a 42-25 win-loss ratio against India, before this match, South African sides have rarely let their sub-continental opponents ‘overpower’ them. Besides, with players like Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dale Steyn, and Morne Morkel this side were the favourites to win the Cup.

But it was one of those rare occasions where India outplayed South in all three departments of the game.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, India started off on the wrong foot, as Rohit Sharma misjudged a run and was run out by de Villiers. But Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli (46) batted fluently to add 127 runs for the second wicket.

Dhawan carried on after Kohli’s dismissal, stringing together another century partnership with Ajinkya Rahane (79). With the possibility of a bigger score growing strong, Dhawan, who was on 137 in the 44th over, got out to a mistimed pull off Wayne Parnell.

Albeit formidable, 308 was not a target that was out of the South Africans’ reach. But India bowled well as a unit, to get them all out for 177. R. Ashwin and Mohammad Shami, in particular, bowled well to share five wickets between them.