While South Africa feature prominently in India’s independence movement for nurturing a young barrister from Porbandar, they remained absent from India’s cricketing history. The apartheid ruled South Africa out of cricket from 1970 to 1991. They had not played any Test matches against a non-white nation till then thus no India-South Africa cricket match was ever played.
In 1991, Pakistan’s India tour was called off. South Africa were ready to send a full-strength team to fill the void. India agreed and thus began the process of South Africa’s readmission in cricket. The joint efforts of Ali Bacher and Jagmohan Dalmiya proved fruitful as two teams decided to play a three-match ODI series in November 1991. Thus, South Africa made their ODI debut as a team at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
A new chapter in cricket begins
India captain Mohammad Azharuddin won the toss in the opening encounter and invited South Africa to bat first. The visitors lost their opener Andrew Hudson early but the former Australian Test batsman Kepler Wessels stayed firm. He celebrated the first-ever ODI fifty for South Africa and his team finished with 177/8 in 47 overs.
The target was certainly within the reach but India faced the fury of ‘white lightning’ for the first time. Fast bowler Alan Donald sliced through the Indian top order to leave them reeling at 20/3. Despite Donald’s 5/29, Sachin Tendulkar (62) and Pravin Amre’s (55) ensured a three-wicket victory for India. Tendulkar and Donald shared the player of the match award for their sensational performances.
India clinched another victory in the second ODI played in Gwalior. South Africa registered their maiden win in New Delhi with an eight-wicket triumph over India in the third and final ODI hosted by New Delhi.
10 November 1991 saw South Africa play their 1st international game for 21 yrs v India in Calcutta since apartheid had ostracised the country since they beat Australia in 1969/70. SA’s capt. Clive Rice summed up the mood “I know how Neil Armstrong felt when he stood on the moon.” pic.twitter.com/SJifmcqI21
— Dan Redford (@danredford70) November 10, 2018