(G.N.S) Dt. 08
Intermittent rain came in the way of what promised to be an absorbing day of Test cricket, forcing a washout of the third day’s play in the series opener between India and South Africa here.
No play was possible in the morning or post-lunch sessions. Finally, around 3.30pm local time, close to the scheduled start time of post-tea session, the day was called off. There will be 98 overs bowled on days four and five with bright sunshine predicted for the remainder of the game. Despite the loss of an entire day, a result is still very much possible in this match. Play will start at the scheduled 10.30am local time. The last two sessions of the day will be extended by 15 minutes each, with a further 30 minute customary extension available at the end of the third session.
Heavy showers had been forecast for Sunday and they duly arrived early in the morning. It didn’t stop raining at all, instead picked up as the scheduled start time of play approached. It did stop raining intermittently post scheduled lunch time. The groundsmen even got down to work, with the umpires looking around and the Super Sopper was put to use as well. But rain returned with a vengeance and put their efforts to nought. All the puddles, that had been cleared initially, were back on the outfield. The good thing though is that the ground should soak up all the water quickly on account of the drought, as and when rain stops.
Post lunch, the Indian team too arrived at the ground. To use up the day, a few players as well as support staff made their way to the indoor nets’ facilities. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Sanjay Bangar and Bharat Arun were spotted amongst the first set of players heading there. Three pitch invasions by presumably drunk fans, skating and slipping on the wet outfield whilst being chased by security guards, were the other highlights of the day.
The match hung in balance, meanwhile. On day one, South Africa were bowled out for 286 runs in the first innings with Bhuvneshwar Kumar taking 4-87. India were reduced to 28/3 at stumps. On day two, India finished with 209 runs in their first innings, surrendering a 77-run lead. South Africa were 65/2 at stumps with an overall lead of 142 runs. Hardik Pandya single-handedly kept his side in contention with 93 runs off 95 balls and then took 2-17 as well. Dale Steyn, on his comeback to Test cricket, suffered a heartbreaking heel injury whilst bowling during the Indian first innings. He has been ruled out of the remainder of this Test, and the series as a result.
(G.N.S) Dt. 08