South Africa received a dose of their own medicine in the third day’s play when opener Dean Elgar was hit on the helmet grill. The incident took place in the ninth over of the hosts’ innings, as Elgar failed to read a short delivery from pacer Jasprit Bumrah.It led to a lengthy discussion between the two on-field umpires, the match referee and the captains of the two sides. Earlier Rahane led India’s fight back.
Curtains were drawn on the day’s play, and late drizzle didn’t help matters much. While many raised questions about the nature of the ‘uneven pitch’, the Indian batters braved it out in the middle, earlier in the day. Led by skipper Virat Kohli’s 41 and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane’s 48, the visitors posted 247 on the board, setting the Proteas a target of 241.
India took their share of blows too, as opener Murali Vijay was hit on five occasions in the first session. Kohli and Rahane too faced the sweet chin music from the African pacers but managed to counter the inconsistent bounce and movement. Vijay’s 127-ball 25 set the tone for the tourists even though two early wickets in the face of KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara threatened to fold out things for Kohli’s men. Once India got into a decent position, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (33 runs) and Mohammed Shami (27 runs) added vital digits to help India place their best bet for a win on this tour.
Coming to the Proteas bowlers, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel scalped three wickets each. Rabada cleaned up Vijay’s patient stay with a lethal yorker and went on to snap the prized stick of Kohli before wrapping clueless Hardik Pandya to make it three. Rahane addressed the press at the end of day’s play and said that the wicket has been same for both the sides.
“Wicket was challenging. Wicket was similar for both the teams. Vijay scored 25 runs. Our openers played well. When me and Bhuvi were batting, we were not thinking about the wicket but focusing on the delivery” Rahane said in the post-match conference.
On the short ball treatment which was dished out to the South African batters, Rahane cited the example of the Indian tail-enders, who had to counter the same from the African pacers. Rahane also had a different opinion to that of former West Indies cricketer Michael Holding. Holding said that the pitch is ‘dangerous’ and rated it 2/100. Rahane, on the other hand, maintained that it is a challenging wicket and not a dangerous one.
“What about them bowling short balls to our bowlers. When Ishant, Bhuvi, shami and Bumrah were batting, everyone was bowling bouncers. I don’t think it is a dangerous wicket, yes, it is a challenging wicket” Rahane said.