Memorable moments: Dravid’s ton, Laxman’s rearguard effort and more

Sportstar recollects five Indian stand-out performances in South Africa.

V. V. S. Laxman en route to his 96 in the second innings in Durban, 2011.   -  Getty Images

South Africa is first on the menu for India in 2018 and after six fruitless tours of the country, expectations from the team are high. No other Indian team to tour South Africa was as versatile as this one is.

While the former Indian teams didn’t taste collective success, individuals didn’t pass up the opportunity to enhance their reputation.

Sportstar takes a look at five stand-out Indian performances against the Proteas in their homeland:

Rahul Dravid 148 vs South Africa, Johannesburg 1997

A 15-Test-old Rahul Dravid struck his maiden Test century in the third and final Test of what had been a forgettable tour for India. Down 2-0, India was playing for pride; Dravid gave the tourist a chance to register its first Test victory on South African soil by scoring 148 in the first innings.

It was a typical Dravid innings - he spent more than nine hours at the crease. And the Indian No. 3 batted almost the length of the innings, walking in to bat with India 25 for 1 and falling as only the ninth wicket with the team score 410.

For the length of time he spent in the middle and given how he held the innings together, this was one of the standout performances by an Indian. South Africa narrowly escaped defeat.

S. Sreesanth 8 for 99 vs South Africa, Johannesburg 2006

India would have to wait close to a decade to win a Test in South Africa after coming closest in 1997. But under Dravid’s captaincy, India thumped South Africa by 123 runs and this will forever be one of India’s most memorable Test wins.

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Kerala pacer Sreesanth paved the way for an Indian win with magical spells of swing and seam bowling, finishing with a match haul of 8 for 99. His 5 for 40 in the first innings helped India bowl South Africa out for 84 and then drive home the advantage of a huge first-innings lead (165). Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis were among the batsmen Sreesanth dismissed, with his innate ability to move the ball into the left-hander and away from the right-hander reaping him rich rewards.

V. V. S. Laxman 96 vs South Africa, Durban 2010

V. V. S. Laxman, India’s crisis man, made an important half-century to set up India’s second and (so far) last win in South Africa. While the Indian bowling attack played the most significant part in the 87-run win, Laxman’s knock was vital in those circumstances. With both the teams putting up better batting displays in their second innings, the Indian bowlers needed that extra cushion of runs to bowl the home team out for the second time in this Test.

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Laxman walked in to bat with India 48 for 3 in the second innings. Though wickets kept tumbling at the other end, Laxman stood tall and gave a masterclass of batting with tailenders. Even on Day Three, the ball moved prodigiously at Kingsmead, but Laxman kept the scoreboard ticking over and took India’s lead beyond 300 (302, precisely) before falling as India’s 10th wicket.

Yusuf Pathan 105 vs South Africa, Centurion 2011

Back in January 2011, just months before India’s World Cup triumph, Yusuf had made a tantalising ODI century in Centurion. India was set a D/L target of 268 runs in 46 overs to win an ODI series that was locked at 2-2, after restricting the home team to 250 for 9 in the same number of overs.

Pathan realised he had nothing to lose, and benefitted from this approach. India was struggling at 74 for 6 and Pathan dragged his team towards an unbelievable win. He was particularly severe on the South African spinners (Johan Botha and Robin Peterson), tonking them for sixes square of the wicket on either side and down the ground, and he slogged the pace bowlers.

Astonishingly, he kept finding the boundary and thereby exerted pressure on the bowlers and the fielding captain.

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He shared a 100-run, ninth-wicket partnership with Zaheer Khan and took India to within 49 runs of the target (219 for 8, with more than 10 overs left) before being dismissed for 105. The knock was scored off just 70 balls and was punctuated by eight fours and eight sixes. India eventually fell short by 33 runs (D/L method).

Munaf Patel 4 for 29 vs South Africa, Johannesburg 2011

M. S. Dhoni’s India successfully defended 190 and won by one run, thanks in part to Munaf Patel. Needing just three runs for victory, Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell lacked the temperament to knock off the runs needed and played two loose shots to be caught at cover and point, respectively, handing India a series-levelling win.

Munaf had to be credited for bowling to the field he was given, though Dhoni had brought in pretty much every fielder inside the circle. Munaf bowled short and wide outside the two left-handers’ off stump and enticed them to play the uppish cut. Yusuf Pathan, fielding at cover, pouched Morkel’s hit, while Yuvraj Singh, fielding at his designated point position, held on to Parnell’s cut. South Africa was bowled out for 189 in exactly 43 overs and Munaf was adjudged the Man of the Match for his bowling performance.

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