Just days after South Africa’s much-criticised squad to tour New Zealand was decried as the darkest moment of their modern Test history, it might have been beaten.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first in the second Test against India in Cape Town, the Proteas couldn’t even make it through to lunch, embarrassingly capitulating for just 55 in 23.2 overs of madness.
Indian quick Mohammad Siraj was the chief destroyer with remarkable figures of 6/15, while second-Test seamer Mukesh Kumar wrapped up the tail to finish with 2/0.
Remarkably, seven of the ten fell to catches behind the wicket – the exceptions first Test hero and acting captain Dean Elgar, who chopped Siraj on for just 4; Tristan Stubbs, who inside-edged Jasprit Bumrah to short leg; and Keshav Maharaj, whose top-edge off a wild slog to Bumrah at mid-wicket might have been the worst dismissal of all.
The score is the Proteas’ lowest in a Test since 1932, while not since 1889 have they mustered a lower total after winning the toss and batting first.
The horror show comes after Cricket South Africa controversially named a second- or even third-string side to tour New Zealand for two Tests later this year, with only players without a contract in their local SAT20 competition permitted to travel.
After winning the toss, Elgar, filling as captain in his final Test for the injured Temba Bavuma, described the pitch as an “interesting wicket with a few snakes in it”, but there was also some poor shot selection from the hosts.
India’s seamers were able to get movement off the wicket, but there was also variable bounce at a venue where there have been many low scores.
New Zealand were bowled out for 45 in 2013 and Australia for 47 in 2011.
South Africa’s previous lowest innings total against India in Tests was 79 at Nagpur in 2015. At home it was 130 at the same Newlands venue in 2018.
Siraj found the right line immediately and had Aiden Markram (2) caught by Yashasvi Jaiswal at third slip. Home captain Elgar (4), in his last Test before retirement, chopped onto his stumps.
Jasprit Bumrah (2-25) had debutant Tristan Stubbs (3) caught at short leg, before South Africa were 4-15 when Tony de Zorzi (2) was caught by wicketkeeper KL Rahul with a strangle down the legside off Siraj.
David Bedingham (12) looked the one batter who was composed at the wicket before he misjudged a Siraj delivery that leapt off the surface and he was grabbed by Jaiswal.
Kyle Verreynne (15) and Marco Jansen (0) were also victims of the seamer’s unerring line and length, before Keshav Maharaj (3) became a first wicket in the match for seamer Mukesh Kumar (2-0) as the visitors ran through the tail.
South Africa won the first Test in Pretoria by an innings and 32 runs.