India may have lost the one-day series against South Africa, but if there is one positive that they can take going into the short two-Test match series, it is the fact that they have never lost a Test at Johannesburg, a rarity for India at a foreign venue. Of course, India have only played three Tests at the venue, but to draw two of those games and win one is still a credible achievement. Here’s a look at India’s performance in the three Tests they have played at the venue till date.
November 1992: Sachin Tendulkar has put together an excellent record in South Africa over the years. It all began during India’s first tour of South Africa in 1992. After drawing the first Test at Durban, India were in grave danger of losing the second Test at Johannesburg when Tendulkar stood tall. In reply to South Africa’s first innings total of 292 built around 90s from Jonty Rhodes and Brian McMillan, India were in massive trouble at 77 for 4 and then at 127 for 6. But, Tendulkar stood tall amidst ruins and almost took India to a safe position.
India were all out for 227 with Tendulkar contributing 111 of those. Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble were the next top scorers with 25 and 21 not out respectively. South Africa replied with 252 in their second innings, Kumble taking 6 for 53. Chasing 318 to win, India batted with gumption a second time round, making 141 for 4 after 82 overs. Sanjay Manjrekar was unbeaten on 32 off 116 balls and Praveen Amre on 35 after 110 balls.
January 1997: If the 1992 Test was about Tendulkar, the 1997 match belonged to another Indian legend, Rahul Dravid. In just his second year in international cricket, Dravid finally came up with his maiden Test hundred after coming close and missing out on a few occasions earlier. India had already lost the series, but thanks to Dravid they avoided a 3-0 whitewash. The India number three came up with a mature 148 off 362 balls with 21 fours to set up a good first-innings score for India. Sourav Ganguly also made a sublime 73 while Javagal Srinath smashed a quick 41 from 65 balls. India made 410 and South Africa replied with 321. Dravid made 81 in the second innings while Ganguly came up with another half-century. Had it not been for Daryl Cullinan’s unbeaten 122 in the second innings, India could have won the Test.
December 2006: Having narrowly missed out in 1997, India finally tasted success at the venue during their third visit. India batted first, but they failed to put up an impressive score on board. The visitors were bowled out for 249 with Ganguly remaining unbeaten on 51. Tendulkar made 44, Dravid contributed 32 and Laxman 28. India won because they discovered a new hero in the now tainted S. Sreesanth. In 10 magnificent overs, he blew away the Proteas with pace and swing, ending with figures of 5 for 40. Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble chipped in with two wickets each as South Africa were cleaned up for 84.
India replied with 236 in their second essay courtesy Laxman’s dogged 73 as India set South Africa a tough 402 to win. Ashwell Prince came up with a magnificent 97, but India still managed to clean up South Africa for 278 courtesy three wickets each claimed by Zaheer, Sreesanth and Kumble.
--By A Cricket Analyst