India are all set to take on South Africa in the three-match Test series starting from 2 October at Visakhapatnam. The other two Tests will be held at Pune and Ranchi from 10 October and 19 October respectively.
The last time South Africa were in India, in 2015-16, they had a miserable series, losing 3-0. Traditionally though South Africa have had the upper hand over India in the longer format. They have been victorious in 15 of the 36 Tests played against India.
In fact, they won a Test series in India in their very second attempt, in 1999-2000, when Hansie Cronje led his troops to a 2-0 win over a strong Indian side led by Sachin Tendulkar.
If we take away the disastrous 2015-16 tour of India, they have actually done pretty well in the country, winning a total of five Test matches. In fact, they drew back-to-back series in India, in 2007-08 and again in 2009-10.
One of the key reasons behind South Africa’s impressive performance against India has been that they have always had a strong bowling attack, which has proved potent irrespective of the conditions. This explains why a number of renowned Indian batsmen don’t possess a great record against South Africa.
In this build up feature to the current Test series, we look at seven Indian batsmen, past and present, who average under 40 in Tests against South Africa.
#7 Shikhar Dhawan
The southpaw’s abysmal Test record against South Africa is one of the reasons he is no longer in the reckoning for a place in the longer format.
While Shikhar Dhawan averages a healthy 40.61 overall from 34 Tests, with seven hundreds and five fifties, his average against South Africa is only half as good. In 13 innings across seven Tests, Dhawan has managed only 258 runs at an average of 21.50.
He has failed to cross the fifty mark even once, with a highest of 45 not out at Bengaluru in November 2015.
Also see - IND vs SA head to head
#6 Rohit Sharma
Dhawan’s prolific one-day opening partner, who will get a chance to revive his career as a Test opener when the latest Test series gets under way, has even more pathetic numbers. Rohit Sharma has played 12 innings across six Tests but has managed to accumulate a paltry 149 runs at an average of 12.41.
His highest of 47 came in the most recent Test encounter between the two sides at Centurion in January 2018. Rohit’s overall Test numbers are much more acceptable in comparison -- 27 Tests, 1585 runs at an average of 39.62.
#5 Murali Vijay
The former India opener, who was a permanent feature in India’s Test team for quite a few years, also struggled when it came to taking on South Africa. Murali Vijay featured in 12 Tests against South Africa but across 22 innings could only gather 531 runs with two fifties at an average of 25.28.
His highest was 97 at Durban in December 2013. As an accomplished opener, much better was expected of him.
#4 Cheteshwar Pujara
The modern 'Wall' has also found the going tough against South Africa. After 11 Tests in which he has played 19 innings, Cheteshwar Pujara has scored 613 runs against the Proteas with one hundred and three fifties but at an average of 32.36.
His best of 153 came at Johannesburg in December 2013. In recent times, he hasn’t done particularly well apart from the half-century at Johannesburg in January 2018.
Pujara's overall average is close to 50 across 70 Tests.
#3 Sourav Ganguly
The former India skipper did not enjoy batting against South Africa. In 31 innings played across 17 Tests, he scored 947 runs at a middling average of 33.82.
Sourav Ganguly hit seven fifties against South Africa, but never managed to cross three-figures. His highest remained 87, at Ahmedabad and then again at Kanpur, both in April 2008.
Ganguly’s overall Test average was a healthy 42.17.
#2 VVS Laxman
The stats of the Very Very Special man of Indian cricket also fell quite significantly while facing the Proteas. In 19 Tests and 31 innings spanning across 15 years, VVS Laxman notched up 976 runs at an average of 37.53 with one hundred and six fifties.
His highest of 143 not out came at his favourite Eden Gardens in February 2010. He even got that famous 96 in the victorious Durban Test in 2010.
Laxman’s overall numbers though made for much more impressive reading -- 8781 runs in 134 Tests averaging 45.97 with 17 centuries.
#1 Rahul Dravid
Even the original Wall did not have it easy when it came to taking on the South Africans. Although Rahul Dravid registered his maiden Test hundred against South Africa at Johannesburg in January 1997, he still ended up with rather underwhelming numbers against the opponent.
In 21 Tests against South Africa, which featured 40 innings, Dravid picked up 1252 runs at an average of 33.83. His only other Test hundred against South Africa came many years later, at Chennai in March 2008.
Dravid’s overall Test average stood at 52.31.