1992-93: Grainy Doordarshan footage and a man they called White Lightning. The term 'friendship series' will most likely evoke memories of India-Pakistan contests in Toronto in the late 1990s, but a few years before that, South Africa's series with India upon re-admittance to international cricket after the Apartheid years was called that too. In a series in which three of the four Tests ended in draws, Allan Donald showed the rest of the world what they had been missing with a fast-and-furious performance in the third Test to give South Africa the series. Donald's bowling and the historic occasion are chief among the mostly hazy memories of that tour.
1996-97: Has any one series delivered such extremes of humiliation, magic and promise, following swiftly one after the other? When Venkatesh Prasad took a five-wicket haul and South Africa were bowled out for 235 at Kingsmead, it seemed as if India had finally shed their 'away' blues, but the illusion lasted all of one day, as Donald once again breathed fire. You thought it couldn't get worse than 100 all out in the first innings, only for the batsmen to succumb to a dismal 66 all out in the second innings. But in Newlands in the next match, even though another heavy defeat, Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin drove, flicked, cut and pulled gloom away with just over a session's worth of - for lack of a better word - batting. Azhar was run-out, Tendulkar was the last man dismissed with Adam Bacher taking a stunning one-handed catch falling backwards. It seemed the only possible way the two could have got out.
And then there was Rahul Dravid at the Wanderers. Finally breaking through for the first of his 36 Test hundreds, and one that should have come in a winning cause, if the weather had held true, with India needing only two wickets to seal what would have been a first win on South African soil. They would have to wait another decade to eventually achieve it.