On This Day in 1991: South Africa Returns to International Cricket

The Eden Gardens Stadium in Kolkata has stood witness to quite a few remarkable matches in cricket history. However, it was never more evident than on November 10, 1991, as the day remains to be one of the most iconic days in history of the game as South Africa marked its return to international cricket after a hiatus of over two decades.

Their first tour was slated to be India and the iconic Eden Gardens Stadium was the venue for this memorable game.

On that day, 41-year-old Clive Rice led the South African side, consisting of several debutants, to the lush green outfield to play an international match and redeem themselves. Indian skipper Mohammed Azharuddin won the toss and elected to field and hosts were able to restrict the visitors at 177/8 in a weather affected 47 over innings.

A responsible half century from veteran Kepler Wessels and a partnership with Adrian Kuiper, who scored 43, helped them post a total of 177 on board. Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar’s magnificent spells kept the Proteas scoring rate under check.

A total of 177 was never going to challenge the Indian batters, but South Africa put on a fighting display led by newcomer Allan Donald from the front. Notably, this was the very match where Donald burst on to the scene and he ripped through India’s top order.

His five-wicket haul (5/29) gave the Proteas a chance of pulling off a historic victory, but a 19-year old Sachin Tendulkar’s gritty fifty plus (66) and Pravin Amre’s stellar 55 ensured the home team’s victory. Despite losing seven wickets, India had a relatively easy chase and they went on to win the match by three-wickets with 38 balls to spare.

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After the match, skipper Rice summing up everyone’s feelings uttered the words, “I know how Neil Armstrong felt when he stood on the moon,” for it was a landmark moment in the history of the game.

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