Published On: Fri, Jan 26th, 2018

Chasing 241, South Africa 17/1 on uneven Wanderers pitch

Johannesburg: South Africa reached 17/1 after play was called off with the condition of the pitch being discussed on the third day on Friday here after India set-up a target of 241 for the hosts to win the third and final Test.

It will be up to the match officials whether to continue playing on the pitch or call off the match

Due to the odd and uneven bounce, play was called off as both the captains, India’s Virat Kohli and South Africa’s Faf du Plessis discussed the issue with match referee Andy Pyrcroft with close to 30 minutes left on the day’s play at the New Wanderers Stadium.

The field umpires discussed the issue more than five times during the day, even during the Indian innings of 247 all out, with cracks appearing on the surface. On a few occasions the ball apparently kept low.

The umpires, however, discussed the matter with much more seriousness when South African left-arm opening batsman Dean Elgar (11 batting) was struck on the helmet by a delivery from Jasprit Bumrah. But it was a short delivery and climbed up to an usual height. But some of the back of length deliveries got odd bounce and struck on the bodies of the visiting and home batsmen.

It will be up to the match officials whether to continue playing on the pitch or call off the match terming the pitch ‘dangerous’.

Hashim Amla (2 batting) and Elgar were at the pitch for the hosts, who lost the opening wicket of Aiden Markram (4) who edged a bouncer from Mohammed Shami behind.

Earlier in the day, India put up a gutsy show with the bat before being bowled out for 247. Ajinkya Rahane (48), Virat Kohli (41) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (33) were the key contributors for India, who have already lost the first two matches.

South African pacers Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada picked up three wickets each.

Resuming the day at 49/1, India had a torrid start, losing Lokesh Rahul (16) and Cheteshwar Pujara (1) early to be reduced to 57/3.

Rahul failed to add to his overnight score as he chased an away-moving ball from paceman Vernon Philander, only managing an edge which landed in the hands of Faf du Plessis at second slip.

Pujara (1) too fell soon, edging a good length delivery from pacer Morne Morkel to du Plessis.

Kohli then joined hands with overnight batsman Murali Vijay (25) as the pair looked to weather the storm on a lively wicket.

Kohli, at the personal score of four, gave a difficult chance for the hosts to pick up the fourth wicket. He flicked Morkel straight into the hands of short leg fielder Aiden Markram, who was not quick enough to pouch it.

Later, Kohli showed his quality, playing with a straight bat and not fearing to go for the drives.

Vijay, at the other end, was resolute, backing his defensive technique to the hilt.

It seemed that the partnership between Vijay and Kohli will see off the morning session. But Vijay saw his stumps dismantled by a yorker from Kagiso Rabada as India reached 100 for four at lunch.

Rahane — who was dropped in the initial two Tests raising questions on the Indian team selection — shone bright in the second session, while Kohli perished for 41.

Rabada produced a back of length delivery which ended up hitting Kohli’s off stump.

Hardik Pandya (4) had himself to blame for a poor shot selection off a length delivery which ended back into the safe arms of Rabada, as India lost their sixth wicket for 148.

Rahane then forged a crucial 55-run stand with Bhuvneshwar for the seventh wicket to take India beyond the 200-run mark.

Mumbaikar Rahane played aggressive cricket, scoring briskly to put the hosts under pressure. He hit six fours out of the 68 deliveries he faced.

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