AB de Villiers might have enthralled the Cape Town crowd with a brilliant counter-attacking half-century with his team tottering at 12/3. Twenty one years ago, Sachin Tendulkar, captaining the team, and Mohammad Azharuddin got together at the crease to send South Africa on a leather hunt at the same venue. Till date, it remains one of India’s best partnerships away from home, but sadly, they could not stop their side from crashing to a heavy defeat.
In reply to the hosts’ massive first innings score of 529, India were in dire straits with half the side dismissed for 58. With Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Brian McMillan and Lance Klusener at their marauding best, most batting pundits would have advised the batsmen to spend time at the crease and blunt the bowling attack.
Tendulkar and Azharuddin had other ideas.
The duo smashed a spellbinding 222-run partnership, which came faster than a run-a-ball to leave Hansie Cronje and co. scratching their heads. Tendulkar made a brilliant 169 and the partnership came to an end through a breathtaking catch by Adam Bacher at deep mid-wicket. Azhar made 115 before being run out. This was counter-punching of the highest quality, and that too, against the finest bowling attack in that era. What’s more, it came at when the team was down in the dumps on a pacy wicket.
India, though, surrendered meekly in the second innings to hand the Proteas a 282-run win, and with that, the series. Former South Africa cricket administrator Ali Bacher, Adam’s uncle, recently hailed the Azhar-Sachin carnage at Newlands as one of the finest of all time.