Match reports

India v South Africa 1996-97

India maintained their unbeaten record in home series for a tenth series with a crushing victory

India maintained their unbeaten record in home series for a tenth series with a crushing victory. They managed only 237 in the first innings, but South Africa struggled even more, allowing India, inspired by a breathtaking century from Azharuddin, to take complete control.
The South Africans were disconcerted by an under-prepared pitch, which had not been rolled for several days and looked badly cracked. It did not deteriorate as much as expected however, and although batting was never easy on a low, slow surface, it was far from impossible.
India recalled left-handed opener Raman and offspinner Kapoor in place of Laxman and Hirwani, while de Villers returned for South Africa's injured spearhead Donald. Raman shared a soid stand of 76 with Mongia before McMillan removed them both. Then, after tea, Ganguly's dismissal by Cronje sparked off a collapse against the unorthodox left-arm spin of Adams, who celebrated each of his six wickets with a cartwheel. Tendulkar made his first Test half-century as captain, batting grimly for more than three hours and striking only two fours, plus a six off Symcox, as he reached 50. He then seemed ready to step up a gear, hitting Adams for two fours in an over, only to sky him to mid-off.
South Africa batted poorly against tight and accurate bowling, especially from Srinath and Kumble. Kumble made the initial breakthrough but Kapoor claimed the vital wickets of Gibbs and Kirsten, each of whom had made twin centuries in his previous match. Again, the middle and lower orders were disappointing, and they were all out 60 behind.
The early loss of Raman gave South Africa hope and, even after India fought their way to 192 for five, a collapse might have given the tourists a chance. Azharuddin ended such thoughts. He was in majestic form and found the ideal partner in the unflappable Dravid, with whom he added 165. Azharuddin's strong wrists and ability to play from the pitch gave the bowlers no margin for error. He reached his 16th Test century in 162 balls with 17 fours, then added another 63 off just 66 balls, with eight more fours and a six.

South Africa, 460 behind, needed to survive ten hours. But their first series defeat since losing to West Indies in April 1992 was effectively sealed at 29 for three on the fourth afternoon. Both Kirsten and Gibbs played down the wrong line, while Cullinan was run out taking a chance against Tendulkar's arm at mid-off. Hudson played a patient three-and-a-half hour innings. But Joshi, already omitted from the squad for the return Test series in South Africa, had a point to make; he ended an aggressive fifty from Cronje, who drove tamely to cover, and then dismissed McMillan with the fourth ball of the final morning. McMillan tried to sweep against the spin and the substitute, Laxman, ran 15 yards to take a diving catch at square leg. Klusener played some handsome off-side strokes, but only just extended the contest beyond lunch.