Besides winning the trophy twice, the record in the World Cup that India cherish the most is their unbeaten record against Pakistan in the quadrennial event. However, there is a team against which the Men in Blue have managed to win just once in World Cup, and that’s South Africa. India have played South Africa four times in the tournament but emerged victorious only once. And when India take on South Africa in Southampton on June 5, they will certainly look to repeat their showing in the 2015 World Cup.
When India squared off against South Africa at the World Cups:
1992: India’s league encounter against South Africa in 1992 didn’t really matter for the 1983 champions given they had already been knocked out of the tournament. They had only defeated Pakistan and managed a close win against minnows Zimbabwe in the league round. After a 2-1 series win at home a few months earlier, the Mohammed Azharuddin-led side was hopeful of a good show against Kepler Wessels’ team. Batting first, India posted a 181-run target for the Proteas in 30 overs. But a good opening stand of 128 runs between Andrew Hudson and Peter Kirsten guided South Africa to a comfortable six-wicket win.
1996: Both teams were placed in different groups. South Africa were knocked out of the tournament after losing to West Indies, while India reached the semifinal where they lost to Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens.
1999: India began their campaign against South Africa at Brighton. Batting first, India posted a challenging 253, courtesy a fine 97 from Sourav Ganguly and a gritty 54 from Rahul Dravid. In response, South Africa lost their openers at a score of 22, giving India the edge. However, Jacques Kallis rescued the side with a determined 96. With the match evenly poised in the slog overs and South Africa needing 24 runs in 22 balls with four wickets in hand, the Indian captain brought in Ajit Agarkar to bowl the 47th over. Jonty Rhodes and Lance Klusner hammered Agarkar, collecting 17 runs off the over and secured an easy win with two overs spare.
2003 and 2007: While South Africa were knocked out in the first round of the 2003 edition, India reached the final but lost to defending champions Australia. In 2007, India were kicked out in the first round.
2011: India won all but one of their matches before winning the coveted trophy after 28 years. The only game the team lost was the league encounter against South Africa. The match is remembered more for Ashish Nehra’s poor bowling, rather than Sachin Tendulkar’s batting against a bowling attack including Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
After a 146-run opening stand, India were eyeing a total in excess of 350. However, a collapse in the final overs reduced India to a competitive 296. South Africa batted sensibly and never looked out of the game. With 13 needed off the final over, MS Dhoni picked Ashish Nehra to bowl it, ignoring Harbhajan Singh who had conceded just five runs in his previous over. Robin Peterson made the chase look easy in the final over, and sealed the contest in the fourth ball of the last over.
2015: India and South Africa locked horns in the 13th match of the World Cup on February 22. Batting first, Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan’s 137, Virat Kohli’s 46 and Ajinkya Rahane’s 79 took India to 307/7 in 50 overs. In reply, Proteas were bundled out for just 177 with 9 overs to spare. Faf du Plessis was the only batsman to have scored a half century. Economical spells from R Ashwin 10-0-41-3, Mohammed Shami 8-1-30-2 and Mohit Sharma 7-0-31-2 added to the Proteas’ woes. India outplayed South Africa by 130 runs and Dhawan was the Man of the Match.