On This Day: November 23, 1996 - Javagal Srinath Leads India to First Test Win Against South Africa

November 20-23, 1996. It was South Africa’s first Test tour to India. The venue of the series’ opener was Ahmedabad. Hansie Cronje was the captain of the visiting team while India was being captained by the great Sachin Tendulkar. The home team elected to bat first. Tendulkar top-scored with 42 as India were bowled out for 223. Sunil Joshi starred with the ball in the first innings for India and returned with 4 wickets including the likes of Daryll Cullinan, Jonty Rhodes and Brian McMillan as South Africa could only muster a slender lead of 21.

Allan Donald again led the way with the ball (he had picked 4 in the first innings too) and with support from other South African bowlers skittled India for 190. The visitors just needed 170 for a win.

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But a certain Javagal Srinath had other plans! The Indian speedster trapped Andrew Husdon leg before wicket before dismissing Cullinan off the first ball he faced – South Africa were in shambles – they had lost a couple without registering even a run on the board.

Srinath returned to break a threatening 31-run 5th wicket partnership between Cronje and Dave Richardson getting rid of the latter before seeing the back of the dangerous Rhodes for a golden duck – it was the second time in the innings that Srinath had taken two wickets in two deliveries!

The South African chase was effectively over. Srinath completed the formalities by cleaning up Donald and Paul Adams. His magnificent 6-21 off 11.5 overs helped India bowl South Africa out for a paltry 105 handing the hosts a famous 64 run victory on Day 4 itself.

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Overall, this was the second-best bowling figures in an innings for Srinath (in terms of number of wickets) in his Test career but in terms of impact this was his best bowling performance in an innings in Test cricket as it helped India to a famous win.

South Africa fought back to level the series at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata but India thrashed them by 280 runs in Kanpur to make it 2-1.

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