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

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - STU­ART HESS ZAAHIER ADAMS

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.

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