Wide eyes and dropped jaws prevailed – with just 642 balls bowled as India beat the Proteas by a massive seven wickets, resulting in the shortest-ever completed cricket test match in history. Only five sessions were played, and India were pronounced match winners after lunch on day two of the five-day test match. 

The opening ball was bowled at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, on the 3rd of January 2024 – with retiring South Africa captain Dean Elgar electing to bat first. The South African team was skittled out and managed to garner a total of 79 runs. 

An incredible fightback century from Aiden Markram of South Africa proved futile in the third innings, as India only needed a total of 79 runs to win the test. 

Things were getting more bizarre by the over. Something did not seem right…

The aftermath: ICC match referee Chris Broad doled out the “unsatisfactory” rating after discussions with team captains Dean Elgar and Rohit Sharma, who stated that they felt the pitch “was below standard”.

“The pitch in Newlands was very difficult to bat on,” Broad lamented.

“The ball bounced quickly and sometimes alarmingly throughout the match, making it difficult to play shots. Several batters were hit on the gloves and many wickets also fell due to the awkward bounce.”

The ICC slapped the pitch with an “unsatisfactory” rating and only one demerit point (the second-worst rating a pitch can get from the ICC). 

Cricket South Africa (CSA) reportedly said it will not appeal this sanction. A CSA official said that the assessment of the surface proved to be “fair.”

So, where to from here?  The Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) announced that it, with support from CSA, “has committed itself to a comprehensive turnaround strategy to address the recent misfortunes at WPCA, which includes restoring Newlands Cricket Ground to its former glory.”

Teams and fans alike truly enjoy record-setting matches – but this turned out to be different from the type of record any team would wish to set. Here’s to hoping for a better, “satisfactory” battleground in the next match!