South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 4th day December 29, 2010

Laxman's second-innings act

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan
VVS Laxman's classy batting, and some inspired bowling set up another overseas win for India at a venue where they had a poor record

The 87-run win in Durban was yet another illustration of the remarkable improvement in India's away record over the last decade. They have won 23 overseas Tests since January 2000, which is ten more than they managed in all matches prior to 2000. Since January 2007, India have been beaten in only two away series: they lost 1-2 to Australia in 2007-08, and a few months later went down by the same scoreline to Sri Lanka.

In recent years, India have also managed to win at venues which hadn't been good for them historically. Prior to this win in Durban, they won in Kingston in 2006, at a venue where they had lost six out of nine previous Tests, and in Perth in 2008, after losing their two previous Tests there. India haven't yet won a series in South Africa, though, and the next Test in Cape Town provides a great opportunity to win in a country where they have the poorest away record.

It was also the fourth time since 2008 that India have managed to come back and win immediately after an innings defeat. In 2008, they lost to South Africa in Ahmedabad and won the next match in Kanpur. In the series in Sri Lanka, the innings defeat at the P Sara Oval was followed by the 170-run win in Galle. More recently, in the home series against South Africa, India won by an innings in Kolkata after losing the first Test by an innings in Nagpur.

After being clobbered all over the park in Centurion, the Indian bowlers put in an exceptional performance at Kingsmead, allowing South Africa only 346 runs in two innings. In fact, it's the third time since 1980 that India have bowled out the opposition for less than 225 in both innings of an overseas win (excluding Test wins in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe). India had earlier achieved the feat at Headingley in 1986, and in Kingston in 2006.

India's away record
Period Played Won Lost Draw
Since Jan 2000 63 23 21 19
Since Jan 2007 23 9 7 7
1990s 39 1 15 23

South Africa's woes at Durban continued as they lost their third consecutive Test at the venue - they had previously lost to Australia and England in 2009. Since their readmission to cricket, they have won eight and lost five Tests at Durban. However, they have won 14 and lost just three matches at Cape Town, which is the venue for the third Test.

The win further improved MS Dhoni's record as captain - he has won 14 games and lost just three. His win-loss ratio of 4.66 is second only to that of Don Bradman, among captains who have led in at least 20 Tests.

Best win-loss ratio in Tests (min 20 Tests as captain)
Captain Played Win Lost Draw W-L ratio
Don Bradman 24 15 3 6 5.00
MS Dhoni 23 14 3 6 4.66
Steve Waugh 57 41 9 7 4.55
Mike Brearley 31 18 4 9 4.50
Lindsay Hassett 24 14 4 6 3.50
Viv Richards 50 27 8 15 3.37

India may be winning matches consistently, but not tosses: in the last 14 Tests that Dhoni has captained, he has won just one toss. In contrast, in his first nine Tests as captain, he won six tosses.

Despite losing the toss yet against in Durban, India's batting was rescued in both innings by VVS Laxman, who was the highest scorer in both innings. Laxman has a superb second-innings record, but it's even better in matches that India have won. His 96 was his 11th fifty-plus score in the second innings in wins, the most by any Indian batsman. He is followed by Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, who have nine such knocks each. The record is held by Matthew Hayden who has 18 fifty-plus scores in the second innings in wins. Laxman's stunning average of over 67 in the second innings in victories is the best among Indian batsmen, and fifth overall.

Best Indian batsmen in the second innings in wins (min 600 runs)
Batsman Matches Runs Average 100 50
VVS Laxman 31 1217 67.61 2 9
GR Viswanath 18 767 54.78 2 3
Sachin Tendulkar 41 1247 51.95 3 6
Rahul Dravid 40 1231 51.29 2 7
Sourav Ganguly 28 658 50.61 0 4
Sunil Gavaskar 19 633 42.20 2 3
Virender Sehwag 24 718 37.78 0 5

Of the 51 times that India have set the opposition a target of over 300 in the fourth innings, they have won 29 and drawn 21. Their only loss came against Australia at Perth in 1977, when Australia successfully chased down a target of 339 to win by two wickets.