On this day in 2010: India register a stunning victory in South Africa

VVS Laxman

India quieted their naysayers through their magnificent, historic 87-run history at Durban in the second Test of the three-match series against South Africa on 29th December in 2010. Back in the day, the Indians were not known for winning too much abroad. Their record in South Africa did not paint a rosy picture as they ended victorious merely once in three visits to the Rainbow Nation. The fast, bouncy, seaming tracks and strong pace bowling, had always been India’s biggest challenge. The first Test at Centurion Park confirmed the problems for India as they lost by an innings.

Harbhajan secures a lead for India

However, come to the second Test in Durban, things turned around majestically. The visitors’ first innings did fold up early on 205 in the face of relentless South Africa bowling. The most damaging was Dale Steyn, who claimed six wickets in the innings. The opponents ensured that none of the Indian batsmen could cross 38. None amongst Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag –who contributed 25 each, and Murli Vijay (19) and Tendulkar (13) could make fruitful outings. Through some resistance of VVS Laxman (38) and MS Dhoni (35), India managed to barely cross 200 before being dismissed.

Hunting down the hosts, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan wreaked havoc as they bagged 7 wickets amongst themselves during South Africa’s response. More notable were Harbhajan’s figures of 7.2-2-10-4, who exploited the conditions to the best of his advantage regardless of playing on a green top. South Africa kept losing wickets at regular intervals as India made early inroads dismissing skipper Graeme Smith (9) cheaply. Though Hashim Amla (33) and Alviro Petersen (24) managed to get their eyes in, the Indian bowlers proved too much for them to counter.

Laxman special

India, in the first innings, wrapped up South Africa batting line-up for a paltry 131, to gain an ever-important lead of 74 runs. In response, the advantage could have been completely wiped out had VVS Laxman not played a crucial innings scoring 96 after the visitors were reduced to 93 for 5, with Sehwag, Vijay, Dravid, and Tendulkar all back in the hut. However, after shining with the ball, Zaheer Khan stood out with the bat too, supporting Laxman and stitching a 70-run eighth-wicket partnership. India finished their second innings on 228, with a 302-run lead on board.

During the second innings, Sreesanth accounted for big names in the opposition camp sending back skipper Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, and Jacques Kallis on paltry totals. The tail-enders Paul Harris and Morne Morkel stayed at the crease supporting Ashwell Prince (39*) in his effort to delay the inevitable, however, once they both departed, India finished the formalities to win the match, which at one stage seemed to tilt towards South Africa.