After gloating over Pakistan, will India break its jinx against South Africa?
When Star Sports in India ran their Mauka Mauka advertisement before the Indo-Pak game this month, it was an instant hit. It made every Indian extremely proud (not that we needed any reminders) of how, over the last 23 years, the Indian cricket team has never lost a single game to one of its biggest rivals – Pakistan – in one of the biggest cricketing tournaments – the World Cup.
However, the very next day, after India lived up to its reputation vis-à-vis Pakistan, I saw the Mauka Mauka ad again. But this time the tables had turned. The joke was on us. The ad featured a couple of guys in South African jerseys taunting Indian fans about India’s winless record against South Africa in the World Cup. 3-0 it is so far, with a ‘mauka’ to make it 3-1 presenting itself today for India.
India and South Africa share a unique bond, as far as cricket is concerned. South Africa’s first ever One Day International (ODI) tour was against India in 1991, which was also its first game since ICC reinstated South Africa as a Test match nation following the dismantling of the apartheid in 1990.
I vaguely remember the short tour of South Africa in 1991, comprising of three ODI matches, which India comfortably won 2-1. It was only a year later when India toured South Africa that we realised the true prowess and potential of the South Africans. We lost the Test series 1-0 and the ODI series 5-2. Since then, South Africa has always had an upper hand versus India in a World Cup match.
However, South Africa has featured in one of India’s best ODI victories ever – the Hero Cup semi-final in 1993 at the Eden Gardens under the lights. Chasing a total of 196 to win, South Africa needed six runs off the last over with two wickets in hand.
After a long discussion, Captain Mohammad Azharuddin handed over the ball to the Little Master (Sachin Tendulkar). And what an over it was… three dot balls, a run out and just three runs! India won by two runs and Tendulkar showed us why he was the greatest ever to play the game. South Africa got the tag of ‘chokers’ a few years later but I think the process perhaps began somewhere in this game.
The video for that phenomenal over can be seen here.
Today is an important game; it can decide the top two positions in the group and thus present a chance to avoid Australia in the quarter finals. South Africa will, no doubt, go in as favourites but if India plays to their full potential, just like they did in their first outing, we will have a close game. And if it is a close game, India might just have an edge. South Africa is the only team that has lost to India twice with a margin of just one run.
Hopefully, cricket fans will be treated to a good batting strip, with batsmen like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and David Miller. It might just be one of those very high scoring games with a thrilling finish.
Looking forward to a Super Sunday!
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