Some people who don’t regularly watch Test cricket ask, “You play for five days and don’t get a result. What is the point of such a game?” But there lies the beauty in the longest form of the game. The match- SA vs IND Johannesburg Test 2013 remains one of the most legendary drawn test matches of all time.
The Proteas had beaten India by 2-0 in three ODI games quite comprehensively, with the third one being a washout. The Test series was about to begin in mid-December which was quite uncommon for South Africa because they don’t usually keep cricket matches during summer months. Anyways, fasten your seat-belts as we go through the SA vs IND Johannesburg 2013 match.
- The match
India had won the toss and elected to field first on a hot Johannesburg wicket.
The Indian openers walked out to bat against a fierce looking attack with the likes of Dale Steyn in his prime form, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Jacques Kallis, and Imran Tahir. India had got off to a very shaky start losing Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay within 25 runs. In walked Virat Kohli who joined Cheteshwar Pujara out in the middle. They had to face a full-blooded South African attack under the scorching rays of the sun.
Pujara played slowly and steadily while Kohli was happy to take the scoring opportunity whenever required. The two of them recovered from a shaky start to put the visitors in a pretty comfortable position at 113/2. But then a confusion between Pujara and Kohli, saw Pujara departing after scoring 25 runs off 98 balls. Then, Rohit Sharma joined Kohli to play against the quality South African attack. Kohli continued his rhythm that day, scoring runs rapidly and on the other hand Rohit was defensive in his approach.
Just after India crossed 150, Rohit Sharma went back to the Pavilion scoring just 14 runs. Kohli was joined by Rahane this time, and the two built a steady partnership. The onslaught from Kohli against South African pacers was very helpful for India to reach a fighting total. Kohli then scored a fantastic century in testing conditions.Embed from Getty Images
Rahane gave decent support to the centurion and India was well and truly on course to put a fighting total on the board. But after scoring 119 runs off 181 balls, Kohli was out.
Dhoni after stitching a good partnership with Rahane got out to Morne Morkel and suddenly a collapse triggered. Just after MS Dhoni got out, Rahane followed him in the next over and the tail-enders were destroyed by Philander forcing India to a total of less than 300. India had put 280 runs on the board. Vernon Philander took a 4-wicket haul and his partner in crime, Morkel took three wickets.
South Africa in reply lost Alviro Peterson with 37 runs on the board. Amla and Smith then put up a fine partnership and put 100 runs on the board. Smith had scored a fifty against the Indian bowling attack and Amla was well set at the other end and looked to score big that day. Then, Ishant Sharma removed Amla in the 38th over and in the next delivery removed Jacques Kallis for a duck. In the next over, Zaheer Khan once again bagged the wicket of Graeme Smith, as he departed for a well composed 61. South Africa had suddenly lost 3 wickets for no runs.
AB de Villiers joined Duminy at the crease and the two batted slowly. Mohammad Shami removed Duminy and de Villiers in a span of 15 runs. Then, Philander steadied the ship along with Faf du Plessis to take South Africa above 200. South Africa was then bowled out for a total of 244.
Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma showed their class as they took 4-wicket hauls each.
India lost Shikhar Dhawan with just 23 runs on the board. Vijay and Pujara batted well to grind the opposition pacers and at 93 runs, India lost a wicket in the form of Murali Vijay. Then, the centurion in the first innings, Virat Kohli joined Cheteshwar Pujara and they did this :
BATTED, BATTED AND BATTED!!Embed from Getty Images
Their partnership lasted for a massive 222 runs. Pujara had already scored a classic century, and Kohli was well on course making a double with another century. Then, Pujara who was in a very good form scoring above 150, had a lapse of concentration and he nicked the ball to de Villiers off Kallis. He scored a fantastic knock of 153 runs. Kohli was well on course making a century in the innings but then JP Duminy scalped his wicket and somewhat brought some hope to the side. Kohli scored a defiant knock of 96.
Along with some good partnerships, India managed to get past above 400 and they piled the misery back on South Africans. South Africa needed 458 for victory in that innings.
There was no chance of victory for the Proteas. A draw was the only satisfying thing that they could get that day.
They started with a hundred run stand, chasing 458 before a collapse shifted them 143/3. In walked Jacques Kallis who started incredibly with some lovely drives and played like it was an ODI. But then his start was broken by Zaheer Khan and AB de Villiers who joined Faf du Plessis out in the middle. This was the same duo that helped South Africa draw a match at Perth the previous year.Embed from Getty Images
They batted brilliantly and stitched a massive partnership to get the score above 400. They ripped apart the Indian bowlers into a dozen pieces. They stood like rocks and this time, miraculously, even a target of 458 seemed chaseable for the Proteas.
AB de Villiers and Faf Du Plessis scored remarkable hundreds and now South Africa was well on course for a fantastic and a historic victory.
But then the hopes got shattered when Ishant Sharma knocked de Villiers off for a total of 103 runs with the Proteas requiring 56 for victory. And in the next over, the wicket fall continued as JP Duminy got out for just 5 runs.
Phew! What a match this was turning out to be! The South Africans were probably smelling the victory was near but then a wicket fall posed question marks on their chances and it got worse when…
Another centurion, Faf du Plessis got run out at 442/7, with the equation now turning out to be 16 runs off 19 balls and, all of a sudden instead of two well-set centurions, Steyn and Philander were on the crease. It was now turning out to be practically an ODI match. India had to pick the remaining 3 wickets or South Africa had to finish things off or else there would be a draw.Embed from Getty Images
The cricket fraternity still questions that whether South Africa should’ve gone for a win or not because while most of us expected the Proteas to push for a win but they didn’t. They aimed for a draw now and Steyn and Philander played for the same.
Now, the Indian pacers held their nerve by not conceding runs, and at the other end the batsmen, Philander and Steyn made sure that they didn’t lose their wickets. The next two overs bowled by Shami and Zaheer Khan respectively were maidens. The equation was now 9 runs off the last ball and Steyn struck a massive six straight above the side screen but match ended in a magnificent draw.
Virat Kohli was awarded the man of the match for his fantastic performances in both the innings of the Test but I guess it is suffice to say that Test Cricket was the winner that day.
This match might have ended in a draw, but for the fans who watched this match, enjoyed every bit of this thrilling draw. SA vs IND Johannesburg 2013 went down in history as one of the best drawn test matches of all time.
This Test proves that even a draw could be as valuable as a win.
Featured Image:- Acabashi / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
I am a cricket enthusiast. I love watching cricket, especially Test matches. I have been playing cricket as an all rounder at academy level for 3 years. Apart from that, I have written 100+ answers on Quora with nearly 600,000 views