Cape Town – Four meetings on the highest one-day international stage of them all … and three South African victories.
Yes, a 75 percent World Cup record is what the Proteas boast against India, their foes in Wednesday’s already vital encounter at the Rose Bowl (11:30 SA time).
That, plus the fact that the favoured Indians will be playing their first match at this year’s tournament whereas South Africa really should be expecting to hit their straps at long last, is at least some advance comfort to take into the fixture by Faf du Plessis’s unusually fragile, nought-from-two troops.
Here is a potted history of those four prior CWC encounters, all of which have also come at the pre-knockout stage of the competition:
CWC 2015: India win by 130 runs, Melbourne
The Indians earned their first ever South African World Cup scalp in this match, which was probably also the Proteas’ least convincing performance of a tournament (beaten semi-finalists to New Zealand) they might well have won with better luck.
Fronted by the withering blade of Shikhar Dhawan, who smashed 137 at almost a run a ball, India amassed 307 for seven at the MCG, Ajinkya Rahane also joining the feast nearer the back end with 79 off 60 deliveries.
On an inglorious day for most SA bowlers, Wayne Parnell’s 9-0-85-1 was especially wince-worthy.
The Proteas seldom looked like taking to the stiff hunt with relish, losing wickets steadily and only a resilient Du Plessis (55) standing notably firm as Ravichandran Ashwin, so often a nemesis to the country with his off-spin, bagged three for 41 in a maximum 10-over quota.
CWC 2011: SA win by three wickets, Nagpur
This was the year India, coached by SA’s Gary Kirsten, won the World Cup before their adoring faithful … but not without a hiccup en route at the hands of the Proteas.
In what deserves to go down as one of our most inspiring ODI showings, India looked to be ludicrously bossing the sizzling tussle when they blasted their way to 267 in the 40th over – when they lost just their second wicket!
South Africa’s attack had been slammed to all parts by opening pair Sachin Tendulkar (eventually to get 111) and Virender Sehwag (73): they blitzed 142 in an ominous 17.2 overs.
But the Indians reckoned without a steely fightback, Dale Steyn to the fore (5/50 and later the man-of-the-match mantle) as they wilted quite jaw-droppingly to 296 all out from that blissful platform.
The Proteas then held their collective nerve – yes, it is possible from them at CWCs – to reach their target with two balls to spare: tail-ender Robin Peterson gave the vital finishing touches, after earlier assuredness from key figures Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, all of whom posted half-centuries.
CWC 1999: SA win by four wickets, Hove
South Africa started their campaign in this match, and were deserved enough victors after some jittery moments along the way in Sussex.
India posted what was then a seriously competitive-looking 253 for five, anchored by Sourav Ganguly’s 97 before famously livewire fielder Jonty Rhodes helped orchestrate his run out.
Allan “White Lightning” Donald was treated with predictable respect by the Indian batsmen, then far less accomplished against genuine pace than they are today (he registered 1/34 in a full 10 overs), although the wickets column was dominated by all-rounder Lance Klusener, then pretty nippy himself (3/66).
Generally unflustered by the demanding ask, SA (some early angst at 68/3, mind) then cantered to the win with 16 deliveries to spare, the fast-emerging Kallis teeing up the player-of-the-match laurel by scoring a calm 96 – though he quirkily also became the second player in the game to be run out in the late nineties.
CWC 1992: SA win by six wickets, Adelaide
South Africa having been absent from the first four World Cups, this was the first clash between these foes at this level. It was also a curtailed one, as bad weather in the South Australian city meant it was limited to 30 overs per side.
India went at exactly six runs to the over, amassing 180 for six on the back of Mohammad Azharuddin’s 79 (Adrian Kuiper 2/28).
But although they were stretched into the final over, and part-timer Tendulkar was the most difficult Indian bowler to get away in leaking only 20 runs in his six overs, SA completed the chasing job with some polish.
Their own, veteran Peter Kirsten was suitably street-wise at the crease as he continued his sprightly tournament form (he’d end it third top scorer overall) with 84 off 86 balls.
He had unusually opened the innings, helping Andrew Hudson (53) as the pair accumulated 128 to always make triumph a likelihood from there.
The win ensured that Kepler Wessels’ charges would end the round-robin phase in a very praiseworthy, popular third, teeing up that fateful, again rain-affected semi-final (remember “22 off one ball” suddenly appearing on the scoreboard?) against England …
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