When Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane came together on the first day of the third Test of the ongoing series, India were struggling at 39 for 3. By the end of the day, they had added an undefeated 185 runs, which was a new record 4th wicket partnership for India against South Africa.
The previous record was 178 runs, which was achieved in the previous Test. It was Rahane again who was involved in that partnership, along with Virat Kohli.
On the second day of this third Test, Rohit and Rahane extended the partnership to 267, which is India's fifth-highest 4th wicket partnership against any country.
Let’s look into India’s record partnerships against South Africa for different wickets.
Opening Partnership: 317 runs (Mayank Agarwal 215, Rohit Sharma 176), Vizag 2019
In a punishing partnership filled with plenty of boundaries, Mayank Agarwal and Rohit set the tone of the series with a huge partnership at the top. This was the first time that an Indian opening pair had stitched together a partnership of more than 300 against South Africa. The previous best was 218, between Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sewhag.
This was also the third highest opening partnership for India against any country. Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy still hold the record of 413 runs, scored against New Zealand in 1956. Rahul Dravid and Sewhag came close, when they scored 410 between them against arch-rival Pakistan at Lahore in 2006.
2nd Wicket: 268 runs (Virender Sewhag 319, Rahul Dravid 111), Chennai 2008
Sewhag was in imperious form, scoring 319 from just 304 balls. He needed just 278 balls to score his triple century, the fastest ever in the history of the game.
As a result, the partnership rocketed along at almost a run-a-minute. The match ended as a high-scoring draw, with both sides scoring over 500 runs in the first innings.
3rd Wicket: 268 runs (Virender Sewhag 165, Sachin Tendulkar 106), Kolkata 2010
Sewhag featured in one more record here, this time in partnership with his idol Sachin Tendulkar. He reached his hundred off just 87 balls, one of the fastest in Indian cricket history.
India won the match on a dramatic last day, by an innings and 57 runs, when Harbhajan Singh trapped Morne Morkel LBW. Hashim Amla almost saved the match with a gallant 123 not out, his second century of the match.
4th Wicket: 267 runs (Rohit Sharma 212, Ajinkya Rahane 115), Ranchi 2019
Rohit, with his third century of the series, rescued India from a precarious position in partnership with Rahane after Kagiso Rabada had rocked the Indian innings early on.
5th Wicket: 225 runs (Virat Kohli 254*, Ravidra Jadeja 91), Pune 2019
Another record partnership was established in the ongoing series, when Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja milked the South African bowling for hours on end. Kohli registered his highest score in Test Cricket, while Jadeja missed his second Test century by a whisker.
The two went past the previous record of 220 runs between Tendulkar and Sewhag at Bloemfontein in 2001. That was Sewhag's debut Test, where he gave a glimpse of what was to come in the future.
6th Wicket: 222 runs (Sachin Tendulkar 169, Mohammad Azharuddin 115), Cape Town 1997
Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin came together with India struggling at 58 for 5, and produced an astonishing counter-attack. This is widely regarded as one of the best partnerships by Indian batsmen ever played in overseas conditions.
Azhar scored his runs from just 110 balls.
7th Wicket: 259 runs (VVS Laxman 143*, MS Dhoni 132*), Kolkata 2010
VVS Laxman and MS Dhoni came together for yet another huge partnership in the same match at Eden Gardens that we had mentioned earlier. At that time, it was also India’s highest ever 7th wicket partnership against any country; it was eclipsed later by Rohit and Ravichandran Ashwin in 2013 against West Indies.
8th Wicket: 161 runs (Mohammad Azharuddin 115, Anil Kumble 88), Kolkata 1996
Responding to South Africa’s formidable score of 428, India were in trouble at 87 for 3. Azharuddin had to retire hurt while batting on 6, and when he came back India had sunk further to 161 for 7.
What happened next was astonishing to watch. In partnership with Kumble, Azhar scored 109 from just 77 balls. It remains India’s joint fastest hundred (74 balls) along with Kapil Dev.
In one Lance Klusener over Azhar hit five consecutive fours, mostly scored through mid-wicket, with an astonishing use of his wrists. No praise was enough for Kumble as well, who gallantly fought for his 88.
9th Wicket: 80 runs (VVS Laxman 89, Anil Kumble 28), Port Elizabeth 2001
Kumble was involved in yet another crucial partnership along with Laxman in this match. From a disastrous 119 for 8 this pair added 80 invaluable runs, which helped India save the match.
10th Wicket: 52 runs (Ajit Agarkar 41*, Murali Karthik 14), Mumbai 2000
Murali Karthik, in his Test debut, stuck together with Ajit Agarkar to take India’s score from 173 for 9 to 225. Agarkar scored a fluent 41 from 42 balls.
South Africa won the match by 4 wickets, as Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher added 36 runs to chase down 164.