How top Indian batters fared in their first Test in South Africa

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South Africa stands as arguably the most challenging destination for any cricket team to tour, especially those hailing from the sub-continent. India, in particular, has struggled significantly in the Rainbow Nation, exemplified by their limited success. Out of 24 Test matches played in South Africa, they have clinched victory in only four encounters, while suffering defeat in 13, with seven matches culminating in a draw.

In their recent Boxing Day Test at Centurion on December 28, India faced another setback, succumbing to a crushing innings and 32-run loss within three days. Despite setting a total of 245 in the first innings, South Africa responded with 408 runs. India faltered in the second innings, managing only 131 runs in 34.1 overs.

The upcoming New Year Test at Newlands in Cape Town presents a crucial opportunity for India to mount a resilient resurgence. Given the visitors’ collapse in batting, it becomes intriguing to review the performances of India’s top batters in their inaugural Tests in South Africa throughout the years.

Virat Kohli showcased remarkable prowess in his debut Test in South Africa, scoring 119 and 96 in Johannesburg back in December 2013, later contributing with a half-century in the recent Centurion match.

Virender Sehwag, the former India opener, made a striking entrance in his first Test in South Africa in Bloemfontein in 2001, crafting memorable innings of 105 and 31.

However, Sachin Tendulkar encountered a challenging start in his maiden Test in South Africa, managing only 11 runs in the lone innings he batted in Durban in November 1992. Meanwhile, Gautam Gambhir’s debut in South Africa saw him scoring 5 in the initial innings at Centurion in December 2010, followed by an impressive 80 in the subsequent essay.

For many others, including current captain Rohit Sharma, the inaugural Test in South Africa posed difficulties. Rohit faced dismissals at 14 and 6 in Johannesburg during December 2013.

Notable performances in debut Tests in South Africa include Ajinkya Rahane’s 47 and 15 in Johannesburg (December 2013), Rahul Dravid’s 7 and 27* in Durban (December 1996), VVS Laxman’s 5 and 25* in Cape Town (January 1997), Cheteshwar Pujara’s 19 and 10 in Durban (December 2010), and MS Dhoni’s 5 and 18 in Johannesburg (December 2006).

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