If you look at Home test performances, then barring Australia, South Africa have been the most difficult side to beat at home. Of the 13 Test defeats South Africa have had in South Africa since 1992, 8 have come against the Australians, while 3 have come against England (and one of those was Hansie Cronje's quixotic declaration in exchange for a leather jacket and some money!). New Zealand (left arm spinner Hart and pace man Simon Doull bowling out South Africa twice) and Pakistan (fired by Shoaib Akthar) have been the other two victors.
We can now add India to that list. :) :) :)
I don't want to say the usual "i told you so" line (mainly because i didn't tell you so in so many words), but in my post at the end of the first day's play, with India 156/5, i said
"I sense good things for India in this test match, especially if the bowlers don't get carried away and test the middle of the pitch all the time (something that Sreesanth and VRV are prone to do)"
I have now successfully predicted 2 of India's most famous overseas wins - on the other occasion, at Adelaide, on the third evening i had said the following (i don't have the link, because i said it on a cricket forum).... "if India can get within 30-40 runs of the Australian score, and then get the Australian top 3 (Hayden, Langer and Ponting) before the Australian score reaches 50, then a 230 run 4th innings chase is gettable". As it turned out, from 7/477, India reached 523 all out, conceding a lead of 35 runs, after which Langer, Ponting and Hayden were all dismissed early to leave Australia 3/44. Australia went on to get bowled out for 196, leaving India exactly 230 to win, which they achieve with 4 wickets to spare.
As you can see, my predictions have become less glorious with time. But India have been just as glorious at Johannesburg in 2006, as they were at Adelaide in 2003. India have now won 2 consecutive overseas Test matches for the first time in 20 years (Jamaica and Johannesburg). Previously, they won at Wellington and Auckland in 1967-68, at Melbourne and Sydney in 1977-78, and finally they won at Lord's and Headingley in 1986. I don't count their wins against Zimbabwe last season at Bulawayo and Harare. The Durban Test offers India the chance to win 3 overseas Tests in a row for the first time. The return of Munaf Patel should help them - the one weak link in the bowling line up - VRV Singh will make way for him. Irfan will have to sit out again. In this decade, India now have a 14-13 win-loss record in overseas Tests (4 of these results have come against weak opposition - 1 in Bangladesh and 3 in Zimbabwe). These are the records of some of Indias lynchpins in those victories:
10 matches, 1013 runs, 92.09 average, 4 centuries, 1 fifties
14 matches, 1552 runs, 86.22 average, 4 centuries, 7 fifties
12 matches, 819 runs, 51.08 average, 2 centuries, 4 fifties
12 matches, 876 runs, 67.38 average, 2 centuries, 7 fifties
10 matches, 577 runs, 44.38 average, 1 century, 0 fifties
10 matches 52 wickets, 21.32 average, 3 5 wicket hauls, 0 10 wicket hauls