CSA and GCB saved from embarrassment ... for now
Elgar takes a nasty bouncer to the head Malan continues his fine form to help secure a home semi for the Cobras
THE MATCH officials decided late on Friday night that this third and final Sunfoil Test will continue this morning, after suspending play 20 minutes before stumps on the third day when South African opener Dean Elgar was struck on the head by a bouncer.
Quite how long the match will continue will be decided by the umpires, but for now the Wanderers, the Gauteng Cricket Board and Cricket SA, have been saved from embarrassment. Of course there is still a danger the game could be abandoned if the umpires deem the pitch to be dangerous, which could cost the stadium its international status for the next 12 months.
That would be a significant financial blow to the grounmd and the GCB, which is set to host the fourth ODI against India – a match that’s already been sold out – a T20 International also against India, and the fourth Test against Australia at the end of March.
Ironically, the delivery which struck Elgar was a legitimate short ball from India’s quickest bowler Jasprit Bumrah, and not misbehaviour off the pitch. Elgar was struck flush on the head, and received treatment from the SA team’s physio Craig Govender.
While that was happening the two umpires, Ian Gould and Aleem Dar, had a lengthy discussion before match referee Andy Pycroft was called on the field and play was abandoned for the day. The pitch had been a point of concern for the on-field umpires for most of the day and at tea time, the managers of the two teams were informed that if the umpires felt the surface was “unfair,” they would consult the captains before making any decision about the match continuing.
The Indians, understandably, are keen for the match to continue with Ajinkya Rahane, who made an excellent 48, saying the pitch wasn’t dangerous. “When me and Virat (Kohli) were batting and me and Bhuvi ( Kumar), it was completely their ( umpires) decision. We told them we want to continue playing,” said Rahane.
The umpires had halted play in the morning after Indian opener Murali Vijay had been struck on the hand. Kohli, Rahane and Hardik Pandya had all been hit on the hand or arm when they batted.
Elgar had also received treatment after being struck on his right hand, while another delivery briefly floored him when he was hit in the midriff.
Kohli and his South African counterpart Faf du Plessis held a brief meeting after play, before groundsman Bethuel Buthelezi, former groundsman Chris Scott ( now an advisor here), GCB CEO, Greg Fredericks and Cricket SA’s stand-in CEO, Thabang Moroe were also seen entering the referee’s room 45 minutes after play was suspended.
South African coach Ottis Gibson said his team were happy to play as long as the umpires decided the surface wasn’t dangerous. That’s something of a cop-out by the Proteas, because Law 6, which relates to the pitch, says the umpires can decide if the pitch is unplayable, but then has to consult and get agreement from both captains before a match can be abandoned.
Just two Tests have been abandoned owing to pitch conditions; in 1998 at Sabina Park in Jamaica, the first Test between England and the West Indies was abandoned after just 10 overs, because the pitch was deemed too dangerous for batting, and in 2009 the sandy outfield at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua was deemed too dangerous for the bowlers and the fielders, which led to a Test against England being abandoned after just 10 balls. India, in particular Kohli and Rahane, batted magnificently through the first two sessions, while Kumar made another valuable contribution, scoring 33 in 114 minutes.
The Indian tail batted very well given the conditions, and it certainly did not look like a dangerous pitch at that time. India’s bowlers, as Gibson noted, have made far better use of this surface than the hosts, for whom these are supposedly ideal conditions.
The Indian bowlers lines and lengths were far superior to South Africa’s, allowing them to utilise whatever demons there are in the pitch.
The South Africans provided far too much width to the touring batsmen, a strange ploy, that could not have been part of their plans.
With the exception of Kohli’s wicket on Friday – a ball that jagged back off the surface hitting the top of offstump – none of the India wickets could be said to have resulted from anything strange happening off the surface.
South Africa need a further 224 runs to pull off an unlikely win.
Meanwhile, Dean Elgar passed his concussion test on Friday evening after the blow he took to the head from Bumrah. He will be observed overnight, and will be tested again on Saturday morning. Warriors: 264/7 (50 overs)
Cape Cobras: 249/7 (46.5 overs) Cobras won by 10 runs (D/L method) PIETER MALAN’S undefeated 94 trumped Gihan Cloete’s 120 to edge the Cape Cobras over the line by 10 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method after rain brought play to an abrupt halt in their Momentum One-Day Cup encounter at St George’s Park on last night.
Malan, who is the leading run- scorer in the competition, kept the Cobras innings together superbly to leave the visitors needing 16 runs with three wickets remaining when the players dashed off the field. The victory ensured the Cobras earned the right to host next week’s semi-final at Newlands.
The Cobras seemed to be coasting to victory at 174/1 in the 33rd over with Malan and the promoted George Linde shared a 115-run partnership for the second wicket. Malan had also put on 59 for the opening wicket with Zubayr Hamza (31 off 49 balls, 5x4) to set the Cobras on track in pursuit of the original 265 required for victory.
However, after Linde’s dismissal for another brilliant 74 off just 55 balls (8x4, 2x6), the visitors suffered a mid-innings wobble. Four wickets fell for just 33 runs, including the crucial wicket of captain JP Duminy (10), and the Warriors were firmly back in the game.
Coupled with the further run-out of wicket-keeper Kyle Verreynne and the loss of allrounder Dayyaan Galiem, and the Cobras were suddenly in serious trouble at 242/7.
Fortunately for the Cobras, Malan kept his nerve along with the experienced Rory Kleinveldt (7 not out) to ensure the visitors lost no further wickets which would have severely impacted the Duckworth Lewis calculations.
Earlier, Cloete continued his good form in this One-Day Cup by striking his second century of the competition. He faced 138 balls and clubbed eight fours and five sixes to go with the 143 made against the Knights earlier this month.
The innings was required after the hosts had slipped to 60/4 in the 19th over with the Cobras new-ball pair of Kleinveldt and Dane Paterson excelling once again.
Cloete found an able partner in Colin Ackermann as the duo resurrected the home team’s innings with a fifthwicket partnership of 77 off 104 balls.
Ackermann scored a fine run-a-ball 45 before he holed out to Paterson on the squareleg boundary off Galiem. He struck four fours and two sixes. Cloete gained further support from former Cobras wicket-keeper Clyde Fortuin lower down the order. Fortuin clubbed a breezy 36 to push the Warriors towards their total.
Ultimately, it was not enough for the Warriors, but they do have the consolation of having qualified for the semifinals in fourth place and will face the Titans up in Benoni.
The Cobras host the Dolphins in the other semifinal.
THIS IS MY HOUSE: Kagiso Rabada reacts after bowling India’s Murali Vijay, for 25 runs on the third day of the third Test. Rabada had the lion’s share of the Indian batting line-up taking three wickets.
GEORGE LINDE: Another brilliant 74 runs.