Pitch becomes main centre of attractions.
The Wanderers pitch in Johannesburg came under massive criticism on the day 3 of the third test match between India and South Africa.
While Indian batters showed great skill and character to extend the lead to 192 at tea on day 3 in their second innings, they were frequently subjected to uneven bounce with ball shooting off the good length spot. After one ball which bounced imperiously and hit handle of Rahane's handle, the umpires also had a chat with each other. However they finally decided to continue the match.
But experts in the commentary box and outside didn't mince their words and called out the dangerous nature of the Wanderers' pitch. Former West Indian bowling legend Michael Holding rated the pitch 2 out of 100 during his stint in the comm box. He made the comment after a ball hit Vijay awkwardly.
In fact the former West Indies paceman went ahead and felt that some of the batsmen could be seriously hurt as everyone does not have the technique and big heart like Kohli. "I understand Virat Kohli wants to play but not everyone can handle what he can," said Holding. In the morning Rahul (16) chased one off Vernon Philander (2-21) and was caught at the second slip.
Three overs later, India were reduced to 57/3 as Cheteshwar Pujara (1) was caught at second slip too, this time off Morne Morkel (1-13). The ball just reared up off length and took the bat's shoulder and Pujara could do nothing about it. This brought Kohli and Vijay together, and the duo batted out 18.5 overs. Initially, they went through a tough passage with a lot of plays and misses.
Kohli (on 4) got a life, when Aiden Markram couldn't latch on to a tough half-chance at short leg off Morkel. The ball was hit straight to his hands but the reaction time was too short to make it a proper chance.
The Indian skipper then settled down and opened up to play a few more attacking shots. Vijay was down for the grind too and, for the first time in the series, held up one end for India in really tough conditions.
Former English captain Nasser Hussain praised the character shown by Indian players and said India can no longer be said as flat track bully with the skill and bravery shown by their batters.
Two things I will say about this test .. if anyone ever calls this Indian batting line up flat track bullies again they need to be reminded of the skill and bravery they have shown in this innings ..— Nasser Hussain (@nassercricket) January 26, 2018
Commentator Harsha Bhogle and former Indian player Sanjay Manjrekar too weighed in on the pitch and praised the Indian players for sticking on in the treacherous pitch. Manjrekar also predicted that the match is likely to be called off when the South Africans come to bat.
Very impressed by the attitude of the Indian team in playing on. Not just brave but smart too. Realise they have the runs on the board. Upto SA to take a call now. Unless the umpires have had enough.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 26, 2018
Now an added element to this Test match. The pitch. We could be a matter of ‘couple of blows on the body’ away from this match getting called off.— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) January 26, 2018
I know they are 2-0 down & have made a few mistakes in this series but hats off to Virat & his boys that they want to continue playing on this pitch in the hope of making it 2-1— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) January 26, 2018
Vijay was out at the stroke of lunch when Kagiso Rabada's yorker cleaned him up after he showed a lot of patience scoring 25 off 127 balls during his three hour and 14 minutes vigil at the crease.
With deliveries rearing up and keeping low from the same spot from the Corlett Drive End, it became difficult for the batsmen with on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould inspecting a few spots on the track.
With PTI inputs