Cricket has always been a game of partnerships, where the synergy between batsmen is crucial in constructing substantial innings. Over the years, Indian cricketers have displayed their prowess on the international stage, and their performances in South Africa stand out as a testament to their skill and resilience. In this article, we delve into the archives to explore the five highest Test partnerships by Indian batsmen in the challenging conditions of South Africa.
Sachin Tendulkar & Mohammad Azharuddin – 222 at Cape Town (1997)
India were 0-1 down and South Africa had amassed 529 in the first innings of the second Test in Cape Town in 1997. Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Co had the visitors in doldrums at 58 for 5 when Mohammad Azharuddin joined captain Sachin Tendulkar in the middle. What followed was 40 overs of carnage and pure genius. It was one of the best counter-attacks by any pair ever in South Africa. Azhar, who smashed 115 off just 110 deliveries with 19 fours and a six, was the aggressor in the 222-run partnership. He was in a belligerent mood and registered his hundred off just 96 deliveries — just a month after blasting the joint-fastest century (off just 74 deliveries) in Indian Test history — against the same opposition at his favourite Eden Gardens. Azhar’s spectacular ton remains the fifth-fastest 100-plus knock at Newlands.
Tendulkar, meanwhile, went on to register 169 off 254 deliveries and although India were ultimately hammered by 282 runs, the pair ensured that they saved the humiliation of a follow-on with some breathtaking stroke-play. The 222-run stand remains the highest partnership by an Asian pair not only at Newlands but in South Africa.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli – 222 at Johannesburg (2013)
After a crucial 89-run partnership in the first innings, they followed it up 222 in the second which all but took the game away from South Africa. The Indian fans had got used to the old firm of Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar over the last 15 years.
They hold the record for the most number of century stands (20) in Tests, at an average of 50.51. Kohli and Pujara, in their first outing as replacements in the Dravid-Tendulkar slots, made the most of the occasion.
Sachin Tendulkar & Virender Sehwag – 220 at Bloemfontein (2001)
When India began their tour of South Africa in 2001, they did so with the knowledge that their then record away from home made for appalling reading. Between July 1986 and the start of November 2001, they had just won one Test outside Asia from 41 attempts.
A bowling attack comprising Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and the rapid Nantie Hayward made for a fearsome proposition on pitches with spice. At 68/4, there appeared to be no way out for India. Until a 23-year old imposter joined Tendulkar in the middle.
Making his Test debut, Virender Sehwag offered a glimpse of the future. He smartly mixed aggression with restraint. Buoyed by the emergence of another star, Tendulkar batted without any semblance of inhibition. The stalwart took the attack to the South African seamers and hammered a scintillating 184-ball 155.
Gautam Gambhir & Sachin Tendulkar – 176 at Cape Town (2011)
A grimly determined Gautam Gambhir and a serene Sachin Tendulkar took India to 142 for two at stumps on the second day of the deciding third test against South Africa today. After Jacques Kallis had struck a masterful 161 to lift the hosts to 362 all out, Gambhir survived three chances to reach 65 not out and Tendulkar showed all the experience of his 176 tests to get to stumps on 49.
The pair shared a vital third-wicket stand of 114 in nearly three hours after India had slumped to 28 for two shortly before tea, leaving the match in the balance as top-ranked India seek their first series win in South Africa.
Sachin Tendulkar & MS Dhoni – 172 at Centurion (2010)
Team India had folded for a meager total of 136 in the first innings. South Africa pacer Morne Morkel dismissed five Indian batters to earn an upper hand for his side. The hosts responded in a resounding fashion by declaring their first innings with 620 runs on board.
India put up a terrific fightback in the second innings. Sachin Tendulkar and skipper MS Dhoni’s 172-run partnership for the seventh wicket brought India back into the game. Dhoni was first to depart for 90. But Sachin continued his resilient batting. Sachin breached the three-digit mark after 258 minutes of patient batting during which he faced 197 deliveries.