As India and South Africa prepare to face each other for a spot in the semi-final of the 2017 Champions Trophy, here is a look back at some of the most memorable performances by Indian players in the fixtures between these two sides:
Virender Sehwag – 3/25 at Colombo (2002)
South Africa were cruising to victory in the semi-final of the 2002 Champions Trophy. Chasing down 262 at the Premadasa, Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis compensated for the early loss of Graeme Smith and milked the Indian bowlers in their record partnership of 178. Sourav Ganguly’s side received a big boost in the 37th over, not in the form of a breakthrough, but rather an injury to century-maker Gibbs. The opener had to retire and new batsman Jonty Rhodes walked in. Harbhajan Singh dismissed Rhodes and Boeta Dippenaar in quick succession, giving India a probable chance of pulling off a victory. And they did.
The final nails in the coffin were added by Virender Sehwag. The part-timer was introduced into the attack and he removed the dangerous Mark Boucher in his second over, with South Africa still requiring 59 runs. Sehwag’s next two overs only went for six runs – priceless given the status of the game and the injury to regular seamer Ashish Nehra. His day was not done as the captain summoned him to bowl the final over. He had to defend 21 runs, with Kallis set on 91 and a finisher par excellence Lance Klusener at the other end. After getting heaved for a six over midwicket, he forced Kallis into playing a false stroke on the second ball and was caught by wicketkeeper Rahul Dravid. He sealed India’s win by conceding only four runs and taking the wicket of Klusener in the remaining deliveries. India won the game by 10 runs and eventually went on to share the Champions Trophy crown with hosts Sri Lanka.
Ajinkya Rahane – 76 at Melbourne (2015)
Ajinkya Rahane’s innings against South Africa back in the 2015 World Cup changed the perception of him being one-paced batsman. Shikhar Dhawan did a bulk of the scoring in India’s 307, bringing up his 7th ODI century and registering his highest ODI score (137). But the southpaw played the supporting role in his partnership with Rahane, as the Mumbai batsman took centre stage and unleashed an onslaught on the bowlers. Seven boundaries and three sixes were hit in his 60-ball knock of 79. At the end, India prevailed comfortably by 130 runs.
Among the power-hitters in the batting line-up i.e the likes of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Dhawan, Rahane established the effectiveness of his batting style, on the grandest stage and in front of almost 90000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Yusuf Pathan – 105 (70) at Centurion (2011)
The innings that sealed Yusuf Pathan a spot in India’s squad for the 2011 World Cup.
India’s score was languishing at 60/5, with 203 runs required in 34 overs. Pathan halted the wicket-flow at his end but could do nothing about the poor showing at the other. India were eight wickets down for 119 runs and staring at defeat. The man from Baroda decided to play his natural game, while ensuring he took majority of the strike. It didn’t matter if you were Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel or Johan Botha, everybody was given the same treatment. With a six over midwicket, he brought up his second international century in ODIs, his first away from home. With India needing only 49 runs in just over 10 overs to pull off a miraculous win, Pathan mistimed an attempted heave down the ground off Morne Morkel and Faf du Plessis did the rest. As South Africa breathed a sigh of relief, the crowd gave a warm ovation for an excellent effort, which included eight boundaries and eight sixes. India could not carry on the momentum and were bowled out for 238 runs, conceding the series to South Africa 3-2.
Sunil Joshi – 5/6 at Nairobi (1999)
The Gymkhana Club Ground in Nairobi provided a spinner’s paradise in the second game of the LG Cup and India seized the opportunity with both hands. After a few overs with seamers Venkatesh Prasad and Debasis Mohanty, captain Ajay Jadeja introduced Sunil Joshi into the attack and at the end of his 10 overs, the left-armer finished with the best figures ever by an Indian bowler against South Africa. Along with picking up a five-wicket haul, the Karnataka bowler conceded just six runs in his 10 overs, out of which six were maidens! Combining with off-spinner Nikhil Chopra, the duo bowled out the Proteas for just 117, their lowest score against India. The batsmen notched up the total in just over 23 overs for the loss of two wickets and Joshi was awarded the man-of-the-match for his incredible performance.
Sachin Tendulkar – 200* at Gwalior (2010)
Sachin Tendulkar’s double hundred at Gwalior will probably be regarded as the greatest performance ever in an India vs South Africa ODI clash. Apart from being the first man to reach that elusive mark, the manner and the opposition attack against which he managed this feat made it even more remarkable. With 25 boundaries and three sixes to his name, Tendulkar scored with ease against the likes of Dale Steyn, Wayne Parnell, Charl Langeveldt and helped India post a massive 401 runs in their fifty overs. AB de Villiers scored a great hundred on the day, but it was overshadowed by the aura of Tendulkar’s historic achievement.
Scorecard Courtesy: ESPNcricinfo