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Golden Debuts: Lance Klusener Vs India at Calcutta, 1996

Related Link: Lance Klusener Stats

(GOLDEN DEBUT MATCH : India Vs South Africa, 2nd Test Match at Eden Gardens, Calcutta (now Kolkata), 1996)

This Golden Debut is one of the most bizarre and definitely the story of the rise of a Great New Star in the Cricketing Horizon. The debut test of Lance Klusener.

The test was set at the Mecca of Indian cricket. Eden Gardens, Calcutta, the Second test of the series where South Africa was touring India in late November 1996.

The scene was set for a South African young cricketer nicknamed as Zulu to make a name for himself, India had won the first test, and this being the second, SA had to win to save the series.

Lance Klusener

Lance Klusener

South African skipper, Hansie Cronje won the toss and opted to bat first. South Africa also capped a young batsman who is also an exuberant fielder (people said he was a better fielder than Jonty Rhodes!) and yes it was Hershelle Gibbs. Gibbs batted at No.3 and scored 31 from 112 balls. SA had their in-form batsmen in Kirsten, Hudson and Cullinan. Their start was really good, with a 200 plus partnership between Hudson and Kirsten. Finally when our Golden Debutant came in to bat at No.8, the team was in good hands at 363/6. Klusener’s batting stint wasn’t good at all. He made just 10 runs and was out clean bowled by a Venkatesh Prasad’s delivery. SA made 428 in their 1st Innings. Indian bowling point of view, Prasad picked up six wickets.

In reply, India with a new opening pair in Nayan Mongia and Rahul Dravid put on a decent partnership of 68, but they both fell in a space of 3 runs. Klusener shared the new ball with Allan Donald. He did not make any inroads into the Indian batting line-up at all… he came a cropper in the first innings. He looked a fast bowler striving for pace, and undoubtedly, like all other new fast bowlers, sprayed the ball constantly. The Man with the Golden bat, our Azharuddin, and his honeymoon with Eden Gardens continued. With India at 77/3, Azhar bristled in, he tore apart every bowler that bowled to him. Our dream debutant himself bore the brunt of this all aggression innings from Azhar. In one particular Klusener over, Azhar hit 5 hits to the fence. It was truly Azhar at his best!

Eventually when India’s innings came to a finish, with 329, thanks to an explosive Azhar knock of 109 from just 77 balls, and a nifty little cameo from Anil Kumble 88 off 124 balls, Zulu had been torn apart (looking ala Shane Warne in his debut against the Indians), returning figures of 14-1-75-0 with 8 big no balls overstepping the line striving for sheer pace.

SA’s 2nd innings was studded with a couple of great innings, Gary Kirsten’s dream run with the bat continued and he got another great hundred (100s in each innings!), and a solid 153* from Daryll Cullinan. Hansie declared at 367/3, just when Cullinan finished his 150th run, Setting India an improbable 467 runs for victory.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man!

Dec. 1, 1996: Klusener’s date with destiny

With Donald injured and not being able to bowl, Klusener and the burly Brian McMillan came together as the opening bowling options. This time, our Zulu wanted to make his presence felt. He produced one of the most memorable bowling spells ever in test cricket.

Klusener’s first test wicket was the Indian Keeper Nayan Mongia, caught by Cullinan. By then, the confidence levels were high with that very first wicket. This Natal all rounder overcame all the first innings nightmares and showed great courage and determination. The Indian batting all came apart. Azhar yet again came in with India at dire straits, and stamped his class again with a quickfire 52 off 55 balls. But there was nobody really to give him company at the other end. And the Indian tale folded up at 137 with the fall of Narendra Hirwani (a golden debutant himself!). When Hirwani was out clean bowled by Zulu, it was very ironical, for that great leggie himself got 8 wickets each in his debut test! Lance had got 8 wickets in his test debut, a feat no other South African has ever done in his life. Klusener’s innings figures read:
21.3-4-64-8 (10nb), again the no balls on the rise, but he had bowled SA to a famous win.

Lance Klusener’s 8 wickets were:

No. Batsman How Out

1 Nayan Mongia Caught by Daryl Cullinan
2 Sourav Ganguly Caught by Dave Richardon
3 V.V.S.Laxman – Bowled
4 Sunil Joshi Caught by Brian McMillan
5 Md.Azharuddin Caught by Brian McMillan
6 J.Srinath Caught by Brian McMillan
7 Anil Kumble – Bowled
8 Narendra Hirwani – Bowled

The only batsmen who did not fall to Klusener’s missiles were: Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.

A 25 year old had arrived into the International cricket arena in a test against India. And he made all those watching, stand up and take notice of him. This was the beginning of an all-new rookie who started his career as a No.11 batsman, and primarily a bowler who knew nothing but raw pace!

Within the next 3 tests, Klusener scored a run a ball century against India at Newlands.

Well, a dream start to a never say die cricketer. Klusener is a household name now, and he is synonymous with the tag of dependability, be it with the ball or the bat or in the field: he gives you 100%. A must have in any side!

He further went on to win more laurels for his side, including their famous wins in the 1999 world cup, where he took them on the threshold of making history; that SA did not make it to the Final is another matter. But this gutsy cricketer gets a nod in an all time World XI. no doubt, salutes this great son of SA soil, jisne hum sab ke dilon ko churaliya!

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