Twenty20 international

South Africa v India, 2010-11

At Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, January 9, 2011. India won by 21 runs. Toss: India. Twenty20 international debut: M. M. Patel.

The organisers certainly didn't lack ambition: they successfully aimed to assemble the largest crowd ever to watch a cricket match on the African continent. They had three pegs on which to hang their ambitions: a celebration of the arrival of the first indentured-labourer Indians in the country 150 years earlier, the final appearance of the officially retired Makhaya Ntini in a South African shirt… and the really big one, which put most of the 50,000 bums on seats - a post-match concert by Bollywood superstar (and Kolkata Knight Riders owner) Shah Rukh Khan. Just visiting the architecturally magnificent stadium, built for the 2010 football World Cup and named after a prominent former politician, was an event in itself. The square boundaries were shorter than ICC regulations dictate and the one-off pitch played like the strip of bare rolled mud that it was, but it hardly mattered.

The extravaganza was a tremendous success. Even the match itself, fourth on the priority list, wasn't too bad. Ntini, unfortunately, showed why he had retired, but it simply didn't matter. He was cheered all afternoon, if not quite as much as Shah Rukh was later in the evening. South Africa never really threatened India's total, despite a whirlwind innings from opener Morne van Wyk on the day he had been ignored in the IPL auction. Afterwards, South Africa's politicians and administrators liked to believe they had proved it was not just India which did "sportainment", and there was talk about making it an annual event.

Man of the Match: R. G. Sharma.

© John Wisden & Co.