On the short side for a fast bowler, David Johnson came into the Indian side on the basis of some fine performances around the domestic circuit for Karnataka. He recorded his best match figures of 10 for 152 against Kerala in the 1995-96 Ranji Trophy season. This brought him into national reckoning and he made his debut against Australia in the one-off Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla in 1996. India were without Javagal Srinath, having sustained an injury, and Johnson was drafted into the squad. He bowled in tandem with his Karnataka team-mate Venkatesh Prasad and picked up the wicket of Michael Slater in the second innings. Johnson then went on the tour of South Africa but got to play only in the first Test, taking the wickets of Herschelle Gibbs and Brian McMillan.