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Dangerous pitch halts SA v India Test – but play to resume

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The Wanderers, Johannesburg
Third Test, Wanderers, Johannesburg (day three):
India 187 (Kohli 54, Pujara 50) & 247: Rahane 48, Morkel 3-47
South Africa 194 (Amla 61, Bumrah 5-54) & 17-1
South Africa need 224 more runs to win
Scorecard

Umpires chose to end play prematurely on day three of the third Test between South Africa and India because of concerns over the Johannesburg pitch.

Cracks in the Wanderers surface widened to cause inconsistent, exaggerated bounce and excessive seam movement.

Play was halted after the Proteas’ Dean Elgar was hit on the helmet grille by a bouncer from India’s Jasprit Bumrah – the fourth blow he had suffered.

It was later confirmed that the match would resume as scheduled on Saturday.

Earlier, players from both sides had been hit by sharply rising deliveries, with India opener Murali Vijay struck five times in the first session alone.

Captains Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli were then called into a meeting with the umpires – Pakistan’s Aleem Dar and England’s Ian Gould – and match referee Andy Pycroft in accordance with International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations.

The ICC later tweeted: “The on-field umpires will continue to monitor the pitch, and consult the match referee should the pitch deteriorate further.

“The welfare of the players is paramount and two of the most experienced match officials are in charge of the game and will take appropriate decisions.”

Only three batsmen have so far reached 50 in the match, with South Africa needing a further 224 runs for victory with nine wickets remaining.

The Proteas are already assured of winning the series, leading 2-0 going into this final Test.

Ajinkya Rahane

Has this happened before?

Only two Test matches have previously been abandoned because of dangerous conditions.

Both came in the West Indies in matches against England, firstly in January 1998 when England were 17-3 at Sabina Park in Jamaica when the umpires deemed the pitch unsuitable.

Then in February 2009, a match in Antigua was called off after just 10 balls because a soft, sandy outfield was regarded as dangerous for bowlers and fielders.

Analysis: ‘India want to continue, South Africa say it is up to the officials’

South African commentator Natalie Germanos, speaking before the decision to resume, told BBC World Service:

“We’ve had a pitch that had a lot of grass on it but also there are some cracks and it seems like it has been a little softer than they expected. Today we saw pieces of the wickets starting to come up and spray all over the place.

“India have said they want to continue tomorrow, South Africa say it is completely up to the match officials.

“The word from the manager is that everyone wants to see Test cricket but they want to make sure it is definitely safe.

“Ottis Gibson, the coach, said it is not sour grapes at all because when South Africa were bowling, their captain Faf du Plessis said it might be unfair. They do want to play, but they are leaving it in the hands of the officials.”

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BBC Sport – Cricket

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