JOHANNESBURG: In a simply shocking series of events, the third Test between the Proteas and India at Wanderers has been stopped because of the wicket being deemed too dangerous.
There was still no official word on whether or not the match was to be abandoned, but the players were pulled off about 20 minutes before the end of day three when Dean Elgar was smashed in the head by a Jasprit Bumrah short ball.
Umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould, along with match referee Andy Pycroft, pulled the players off as a result.
Only two Test matches in the history of the game have been abandoned because of the conditions – in 1998 and 2009, with both occurring in the West Indies against England.
This is the first time it has happened in South Africa.
Elgar had been hit several times in his short stay at the crease.
India and their skipper Virat Kohli will be livid after they batted for almost the entire day.
The wicket made batting a nightmare and came under more and more scrutiny as the day progressed, but a combination of courage, skill and execution from the Indians put them in a commanding position after their second innings.
Chasing an unlikely 241 for victory, South Africa had already lost Aiden Markram (4) and were on 17/1 when the players were pulled off.
There were also times during the first two sessions where the wicket was so much of a concern that it looked like the umpires would bring play to a stop amidst the safety concerns.
It was dangerous, especially with speedsters Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi charging in.
The uneven bounce meant that numerous length balls jumped up on the batsmen unexpectedly, and with the wild lateral movement off the wicket making things even tougher, Indian physiotherapist Patrick Farhart was on and off the field treating the Indians that had been struck.
Opener Murali Vijay (25), who showed great application before falling to Rabada the ball before lunch, got the worst of the bodyline treatment as he was hit several times.
South Africa, for all of the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ and playing and missing, just couldn’t get on top of the Indian batsmen.
Virat Kohli (41) and Ajinkya Rahane (45) played crucial innings in the middle order, but the damage done by the tailenders would have frustrated the Proteas even more.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s 33 and Mohammed Shami’s 27 came in quick time, and when India were eventually bowled out for 247, they had set South Africa 241 runs for victory.
On this wicket, that was always going to be a big ask.
All of Vernon Philander (3/61), Rabada (3/69) and Morkel (3/47) had looked dangerous throughout the Indian innings, but there were far too many loose deliveries that allowed the Indians to score.
Runs on this wicket are gold, and South Africa also leaked far too many of them in the field.
Rahane was dropped by Dean Elgar at gully when he was on 38, while Kumar was put down by Andile Phehlukwayo at deep point when he was on just 15.