Panorama Part One
When The Proteas Came to Eden
By S Zeyaur Rahman
Panorama Part Two
Panorama Part Three
conventional wisdom says that past is past, dead and gone, buried
beneath the avalanche of the contemporary. But more often than not this
old age adage is defied by none other than us, we who bury the past only
to dig it up later and resurrect it.
Let me use this prerogative and excavate the events of July 1991, when
under a sudden turn of events South Africa was welcomed back to the fold
of cricket playing nations by the very same organisation, the ICC, which
had shown it the door in 1969. It was politics then and it was politics
now. Nothing could be more symbolic of the changing equations than the
initiative by India, a nation of coloured people moving the resolution
in the ICC, which paved the way for the Apartheid nation.
Dr Ali Bacher was indebted with gratitude and in a spontaneous gesture
which came straight from the heart a short trip to India was organised.
That was the first time that India and South Africa were to meet on the
On the 9th of November 1991 the first ever South African airline touched
down the Indian soil at the Dum Dum airport. A sea of humanity,
overflowing with enthusiasm bubbling with spirit gave a rousing welcome
to the team under Clive Rice. It was a momentous occasion for Calcutta
which has more than its fare share of cricketing history.
Rice thought that it could get no better. He was shocked the very next
day as an unprecedented crowd turned up at the Eden Garden. The official
number was 90,800, a world record. That is without taking into account
the numerous officials, pressmen, policemen and vendors! The setting was
The Proteas were jittery and unnerved, perhaps shaken and overwhelmed by
the sheer magnitude of almost everything. The Calcutta crowd, which is
synonymous with deafening crackers went berserk and scalped Hudson in
the very first over. Wickets fell at regular intervals and when they did
not, the run rate was too slow. Wessels, the only player who was not
making a debut, needed 95 balls for his 50 and his team ended at 177-8
in 50 overs.
That was a very moderate target but Donald made a point that fast
bowling was poorer by his absence. He had 3 wickets in 4 overs. With
Azharuddin gone at 60 a match was on the cards.
Cometh the hour cometh the man. India’s teenage prodigy, Sachin
Tendulkar scored a fluent 62 off 73 balls and was ably assisted by the
debutante Praveen Amre, who also scored a fifty and India romped home
with three wickets and ten overs to spare. But not before Donald had
registered 5-29 And walked away with the Man of the Match prize.
Another day another time. But nothing had changed except the venue. Roop
Singh Stadium Gwalior did not leave any stone unturned in making the
occasion a historic one. This match marked the comeback of Srikkanth on
his captains insistence. Everyone knew that Azharuddin was repaying an
old debt. But Srikkanth did not disappoint and rattled up a stroke
filled fifty and added 130 for the first wicket with Sidhu. The next man
Manjrekar got run a ball 52 and India was heading for a big total.
Suddenly there was a slump and India could manage only 233 runs, Donald
breaking Amre’s off stump with the last ball of the innings and had
figures of 3-36.
Indian bowling was extremely disciplined. Kapil Dev yet again got a
wicket in the first over, this time Jimmy Cook. He and Prabhakar gave
away only 46 runs in 18 overs and South Africa was stifled. Wessels
stood tall among the ruins getting 71 off 96 balls, too less for a
victory but good enough to fetch him the Man of the Match prize.
The series was already decided and South Africa had not done anything
special. Still a capacity crowd turned up at the Nehru Stadium, Delhi.
And all of them would be thanking their stars for it.
India tried its third opening pair in as many games. Srikkanth opened
with Shastri and got yet another fifty and with that booked his place in
the team for Australia. Shastri acting as the skipper got 109 but the
surprise package was Manrekar’s 105 off 82 balls only. This was the
first time that two Indians had got a century in the same match. India
set up at a target off 288 runs and the match was as good as over.
South Africa had other plans. At last they displayed their might and
restored their pride. Their entire batting line up clicked and they
hammered the Indian attack. Wessels got his thirds consecutive 50. His
90 off 105 balls and Peter Kirsten’s 86 off 92 balls were the
foundation of South Africa’s strong reply. Cook got a sedate 35 and
Kuiper was explosive getting 63 in 41 balls. South Africa made a mockery
of India’s huge total, winning with 8 wickets and 3.2 over to spare.
That was the icing on the cake. Both the teams generated tremendous
goodwill and enthusiasm and left everybody yearning for more. The
Proteas were bowled over by the warm reception and they in turn won many
a hearts. A beginning had been made. There was a pledge for a Continuum
but for the time being there had to be an Interregnum.
Panorama Part Two
India Went To Durban
By S Zeyaur Rahman
Panorama Part One
Panorama Part Three
South African tour to India was history. The hurriedly arranged three one
day match series was remembered for more non cricketing reasons than
otherwise. But that had initiated a process and which gained momentum with
every passing day. The South Africans were once again overwhelmed with
Indian hospitality and Dr Bacher's sense of gratitude was renewed. He had
not forgotten the fact that India had moved the resolution in the ICC for
South Africa's entry. He had reciprocated by choosing India as the first
destination. After the tour to India he made a public proclamation that
India would be the first country to tour South Africa and he fulfilled his
The warm reception that the Proteas had got all over India was a benchmark
and Dr Bacher knew that it would be very difficult to match the standards.
It was his one point agenda to give an equally befitting reception to the
Indian team. He was once again as good as his word. The day the Indian
team landed in Durban, was a historical day not only for South Africa or
cricket but in entire sporting history. No team was ever given such a
royal treatment, given such a regal welcome anywhere in any sport. An
entourage of cars received them at the Durban airport and they were taken
in a procession. Azharuddin could well have mistaken himself for Caesar
and Durban for Rome. To be honest Calcutta was not only history, it paled
into history that very moment. That set the ball rolling for the
The tour opened with a friendly game against the side of the avid sports
lover and millionaire Nicky Oppenheimer. Since then it has become
customary for any touring side to South Africa to begin with a game
against Nicky Oppenheimer XI. On the day of the match it had rained, but
Oppenheimer would have none of it. His private helicopters rained petrol
on the pitch, which was set alight so that it dried quickly. It was one of
the many examples of all that had never happened before in the history of
The first test was scheduled for Durban. There was no way to avoid history
that day. It was the first time that a non-white team was playing an
official match in South Africa. It was for the first time that a black
player was representing South Africa. Omar Henry made his debut at the age
of 40 years and 295 days. It was the first time that television umpiring
was introduced in cricket. The first official ball in South Africa after a
gap of 22 was no less historical. Kapil Dev got the veteran Jimmy Cook,
obviously making his debut, caught behind and one was left wondering as to
what else lay in store.
South Africa stopped playing the gentle hosts then and there. The skipper
Kepler Wessels took charge and scored a dashing stroke filled century.
With history all over Wesels sense of history did not ditch him. He became
the first player to score centuries for two different countries. He had
earlier done that while representing Australia. That was the only high
point of the innings. None of the debutants rose to the occasion and South
Africa was bundled out of 254.
India soon realised that it is not always necessary to use petrol to set
the pitch on fire. Donald and Co were enough for that. They had run
through the top order in no time. Debutant Jadeja, little master
Tendulkar, marathon men Shastri and Manjrekar were back and it was 4
down for 38. History was very circumspect in choosing its tools. The first
ball magic was created by the legendary Kapil Dev and the
legend-in-making, Sachin Tendulkar was the first man to be adjudged run
out by the TV umpire, CJ Mitchley.
The Indian skipper tried to emulate his counterpart but all he could do
was to play a supporting role in a 87 run partnership with the debutant
Praveen Amre. Amre played an innings of the highest order and took India
to safety from a very precarious situation. He got an unexpected support
from one of the least thanked players. The little wicketkeeper Kiran More
added 101 runs for the 8th wicket and India managed a 23 run lead over
Bad light and rain then played spoil sport and the 4th day play was washed
out and by the 5th day morning it became clear that a draw was inevitable.
With no interest left in the game, the South Africans chose to have a
batting practice and painfully laboured to 176-3 in 82 overs. There were
talk of a pair when Jimmy Cook came out to bat, The commentators decided
to give him a King's pair if he did that on debut. Since it was the first
test of his team they later on decided to call it an Imperial pair if he
managed that. Cook would have none of it and got very good 43 runs. For
all the action and drama, Amre's effort was superlative and he won the Man
of the Match award and his portrait was put up in the Stadium Museum. What
a way to begin a career with.
The caravan shifted to Johannesburg for the second test match. This time
Wessels won the toss and elected to bat. Indian bowling became lethal all
of a sudden and none of the top five batsmen could get into double
figures. It was 5 down for 71 at lunch. At 61 for 4, Jonty Rhodes survived
a run out appeal. Umpire Bucknor refused to consult the third umpire and
Rhodes went on to score 91 and along with Macmillan, the last man out on
98 took the score to 292. The decision changed the course and the tempo of
the series. Much of the talk about the Friendship series went down the
drain and the bearing on the result was obvious for everyone to see.
Mayerick Pringle's felling by a Srinath bouncer did not do any good to
Indian batsmen were no match for the accurate and of late hostile bowling.
Tendulkar was the only one who rose above the ashes and scored a memorable
111. India finished at 227 and Macmillan made his mark as an allrounder
grabbing 4 wickets for which he was to be adjudged the Man of the Match.
At 2 down for 138 on the fourth day South Africa was in command. Another
addition in the controversy list was the running on the pitch episode.
First Kapil Dev and then Macmillan earned warnings for that. Under the
circumstances it was strange that Kumble was brought from the Corlette
Drive end instead of the Golf Course end. That decision clicked and the
bespectacled spinner walked away with 6 wickets. His 6-53 applied the
brakes. South Africa ended at 252 but they took enormous amount of time in
scoring them, which later on proved crucial.
India were set a target of 318 runs in approximately 96 overs, not an easy
task by any standards. For the first time the visitors got a decent start
by putting 68 runs for the first wicket. That was soon to be undone and
the score read 4 for 73 and it was a struggle for survival all over again.
The time factor saved India but not before Amre (35) and Tendulkar (32)
had added 70 runs in almost three hours.
The teams took a break from the test matches and a seven match one day
series was played, which will be dealt in a following article. India was
badly mauled 5-2 and were very low on morale when they appeared for the
third test at Port Elizabeth, billed to be the fastest pitch in South
Africa. The hangover of defeat, the traditional vulnerability to quality
fats bowling etc coupled to set up an Indian defeat.
Lightening does not strike a place twice, but the White Lightening struck
as many as five times and India were bundled out for a meager 212. That
too was possible only after Azharuddin got 60, and stuck his lips all the
way to the pavilion when he was wrongly given caught behind. India
promised a befitting reply when Prabhakar got the tormentor in chief
Wessels for naught. The next wicket fell at 117 and that sealed the fete.
Young Hansie Cronje got 135 and that was the turning point. He did not get
any support later in the innings and it was all due to his efforts that
his team finished at 275.
The showing in the second innings was all the more dismal. Donald assumed
the role of one man demolition squad and he had reduced India to 5-27.
That set the stage for one of the greatest innings of modern times. Kapil
Dev's 129 was remarkable for the sheer audacity of stroke play. It was a
memorable tussle between the White Lightening and Haryana Hurricane, which
the latter won hands down but the former ended on the winning side. Kapil
Dev single handedly got 60 percent of the runs and in extremely difficult
India set a target of 152 runs and the South Africans seized it with both
the hands. Once again Wessels and his sense of history took command of the
situation. He finished unbeaten on 95 and guided South Africa to a
comprehensive and decisive 9 wicket victory.
The New year began with the final test at cape Town. Both the teams were
apparently worn out at the end of a long three month tour and that
accounted for an absolutely colourless and unexciting match. Having won
the series South Africa could be forgiven for their laxity, but India
disappointed one and all by not pushing for a victory. It was as if that
they did not have any will to win.
South Africa were put into bat and they meandered agonisingly slowly to
360, the highest score of the series. Without being attractive Rhodes and
Mcmillan scored 86 and 52 runs respectively and Kumble laboured
assiduously for his three wickets. India in their turn fell one short of
their highest score of the series and ended up at 276. Sachin Tendulkar
got a sedate 73 and Prabhakar got 62 as an opener. Bad light had wasted a
lot of time and nobody seemed to mind it.
One can get an impression of the South African batting performance when
they got 130 runs in 97 overs before declaring. They wanted to play safe
and succeeded in their intentions. Srinath, who was back in the side,
bowled his heart out and got 4 wickets an effort for which he was given
Man of the Match. That is a pointer to the quality of cricket played in
the match. India was asked to bat in the last hour and were given a target
of 215 runs. Every one was glad when they got 29 of those and the match
was called off.
With that the friendship series ended. It was along journey from Durban to
Cape Town and one saw all kinds of contours and landscapes even on the
cricket field. Kepler Wessel's side won the test series but the series as
such was a very poor advertisement for test cricket in South Africa.
For India it was problems galore. Earlier on the Zimbabwe tour they had
drawn the only test match and somehow managed to win the solitary one
dayer. As a matter of achievement it was a blank slate. The future of many
players was at stake. Above all it was a leadership in question. Azhar's
record as a captain looked pathetic, having won only one test and lost
seven. A change of guard for the forthcoming home series against England
was on the cards. It did not happen and it is a different story now.
Panorama Part Three
Indians Mauled In The One Day Series
Panorama Part One
Panorama Part Two
had become almost impossible to avoid the word historic while commenting
upon practically anything during India's first tour to South Africa.
There were a number of firsts both in terms of past and the present and
nobody knew how to term it. But the abundance of the h word had become
so monotonous that the journalists covering the series decided that they
would be imposing a fine of $1 on their colleagues each time they use
the word historic in their reports. And believe me they indeed had a
huge party at the end of the tour because of the rather decent sum that
the reporters had shelled out as fine. So I will consciously avoid the
word in my article though the law has elapsed nine years ago.
After the first two tests at Durban and Johannesburg ended in draws, the
teams locked horns in a seven match one day series. Very much like the
tests the one dayers were not great in terms of quality but they were a
huge commercial success. The UCBSA got a pointer regarding the direction
in which cricket was moving in South Africa.
Obviuosly enough it was the first one-day international on the South
African soil. The atmosphere was electric at the Newlands, Cape Town
when Donald ran into bowl to Jadeja on 7 December 1992. As I said, none
of the matches went to the wire but when history (see you cant avoid it)
is in question other things take a back seat and the crowd loved every
moment of it.
India won the toss and elected to bat. Jadeja and Raman were at sea
against the disciplined South African attack of Donald, de Villers,
Matthews and McMillan. They found scoring too difficult and added 92
runs for the first wicket in 27.2 overs that created enough pressure on
the rest of the batting order, which simply perished in a bid to
accelerate the pace. Indians were desperate to hit out and they
identified Cronje as the weak link. In the process, Cronje ended up with
5 wickets and India was all out for 184.
184 is not undefendable in South Africa but neither is it formidable.
They found it extremely easy to handle Kapil, Srinath and Prabhakar. It
was with the introduction of the slow bowlers Kumble and Tendulkar that
the scoring slowed and the match went to the 50th over. It was never
difficult for South Africa and they won comfortably by 6 wickets. Cronje
got the MOM award for his 5 wickets and a 6 off the last ball that
settled the matter.
The next match was at St. George's Park, Port Elisabeth, supposedly the
fastest surface in the country. The skidding and bouncing ball was not
music to Indian ears and they were 7-84 at one stage. Kiran More took 69
balls for his 32 and India managed 147 in 50 overs. McMillan did most of
the damage by claiming four victims for 32 runs.
With such a mere target in sight, the home team batted with all the time
in the world and inched to victory at a snails pace. The no nonsense
attitude saw them reaching the target in 46.4 overs. Callaghan was the
top scorer with 45 but the MOM award went to McMillan. This is the match
in which Kapil Dev mankaded Kirsten, after warning him repeatedly
earlier in the series. Wessels bat on the shin followed and much of the
theory regarding the Friendship series went down the drain.
South Africa won the toss at Verwordburg and the 200 mark was crossed
for the first time in the seroies. Hudson had grafted a patient innings
of 87. With Wessels and Callaghan chipping 34 and 32 respectively, the
Indians were set a target of 215, which appeared to be huge in view of
India's batting performance.
Surrprisngly enough India managed to win the match and the series became
alive if not colourful. The man responsible for the turn around was W V
Raman who got his maiden hundred. The entire innings revolved around him
and the next highest score was 27 by Ravi Shastri.
India batted first at Johannesburg and it was back to business by South
Africa. They literally stifled the batting order and conceded only 161
runs. Azharuddin needed 84 balls for his 49 and the only other
significant score was 21 by Tendulkar.
The discernable pattern of steady approach and victory with minimum fuss
was on display again. South Africans valued their wickets immensely and
progressed steadily all the more because of the absence of any real
pressure. The victory margin was 6 wickets and Jonty Rhgodes got the MOM
for his 42.
The fifth one dayer was crucial for the result of the series depended on
it. India managed to cross the 200 mark while batting first for the
first time mainly because of Azhar's 86. Tendulkar 32 and Parabhakr
batting at number 3 contributed 36.
South Africa did not want the 200 plus target to bother them and that is
why they came out blazing. They got 22 runs in the first 4 overs and
Azhar had removed the slips by then. The bludgeoning continued and the
first wicket in the 33rd over. Hudson got his century but could not
carry the bat through. The match was decided much earlier and so was the
India had nothing but pride to play for in the 6th match at Durban. The
sense of pride did not really help as the result was yet another
comprehensive defeat. South Africa set a target of 217. Kirsten played
the anchor and goprt 78 and which was the foundation of the big target.
Chasing the target, India were 3-116 at a stage but the middle order
collapse saw them finishing short of the target by a good 40 runs. Kapil
Dev promised something with a quick fire 30. Earlier he had bowled
beautifully for 10-4-23-3 and was adjudged the MOM.
The series was dead by the time the teams assembled at East London for
the 7th match. Every one expected another dead performance from India
but somehow they, managed to turn the tide for a face saving but
The South Africans were bogged down by very disciplined bowling by
India. Kapil Dev was once again in his elements and returned with
figures 10-4-27-1. Wessels and Cronje got 57 and 55 but the momentum was
missing and India had to chase 204 runs for victory.
The top order did not click but of couple of batsmen got to the 20s.
Amre produced a delightful innings of 84 and in the company of the hew
wicket keeper Vijay Yadav (34) saw India through to victory.
The series ended at 5-2 and the result was a clear indication that the
South Africans were a force to reckon with in the shorter version. Their
semifinal appearance in the world cup earlier in the year was vindicated
and the warning bells were sounded for the top teams like Australia and