Andre Nel was in the headlines for all kinds of reasons when India toured SA in 2006.
India’s tour will go down as one of the Proteas’ most memorable and successful series. After losing the first Test by 123 runs, questions were raised as to whether the hosts were any match for India’s powerful and decorated top order and their up-and-coming pace attack, complemented by the spin of Anil Kumble.
That first Test saw a disastrous batting display from the Proteas as they were skittled for 84 in the first innings. Sreesanth, now an ostracised figure from the sport after receiving a life-ban for spot-fixing, was Man of the Match for his eight wickets in the contest, but it was his six runs with the bat that people remember. After Andre Nel accused him of not showing enough heart, he proceeded to smack a six off him the very next ball, prompting a dramatic swinging of the bat in Nel’s face in response to his earlier remarks. A sheepish Nel was also known for his exuberant behaviour, and that will be one of the instances in which his eccentric character let him down.
Nel – who made headlines in 2001 for crying when he felled his hero Allan Donald with a bouncer in a first-class match – would go on to make headlines for all the right reasons following his first-Test antics. He went on to take five wickets in the second Test, coincidentally Morne Morkel’s Test debut, as the Proteas turned the series around to win it 2-1.
The Proteas then secured a clean sweep in the ODI series, winning the five-match series 4-0 after the first was washed out. Nel enjoyed one of his best series in coloured clothing, taking six wickets at an average of just 14.50. The 157-run victory in the second match was largely down to Jacques Kallis’s century, but Nel, with help from Shaun Pollock and Kallis, dismantled the Indian batting lineup. Nel bowled Tendulkar for 35 just as he was about to get going, before sending MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Zaheer Khan back to the pavilion, too, to pick up figures of 4-13. He will also remind you that he scored a 12-ball 22 in that match – the flourish at the back-end of the innings playing its part in the win.
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