India vs South Africa, 3rd Test, Day 3: India will back themselves on 'dangerous' pitch at Wanderers

It's anyone's game after Day 3 of the third and final Test between India and South Africa at Johannesburg's Wanderers Stadium on Friday. 

India vs South Africa, 3rd Test, Day 3: India will back themselves on 'dangerous' pitch at Wanderers
Rahane played a gem of a knock in the hour of need. @BCCI

It's anyone's game after Day 3 of the third and final Test between India and South Africa at Johannesburg's Wanderers Stadium on Friday. 

Chasing 241 to win on India's Republic Day, the Proteas closed the day on 17/1 with Dean Elgar (11) and Hashim Amla (2) at the crease. 

India began the day on 49/1 looking to reach at least 200 on a difficult pitch, which they successfully did and in fact even went well beyond that target as the batsmen came to the party following the bowlers' exploits  that had seen them bowl South Africa out for 194 on Thursday. 

The visitors lost KL Rahul (16) and Cheteshwar Pujara (1) early in the morning session after which Kohli and overnight batsman Vijay dug deep, even though the pitch had started to break off dangerously leading to both batsmen taking a few nasty blows on their bodies. 

In fact, all day the pitch behaved like that and bad bounce was the reason behind the day's premature close. The negotiations were on as to whether or not to resume play when rain came and brought an end to any possibility of a return to the field.     

While batting, Kohli and Vijay had complained to onfield umpires Ian Gould and Aleem Dar regarding the dangerous dual nature of the pitch but both officials decided to go on with the match. Just when it appeared that the Indian pair had found a way to deal with the two-paced behaviour of the pitch, Kagiso Rabada cleaned up Vijay (25) with a peach of a yorker against the run of play.    

The Indian batsmen knew that it was that kind of pitch where thinking of fifties and centuries would be branded foolishness, so they batted with intent looking to get whatever runs they could. 

Kohli (41) played another solid knock in the match, however, it was a 55-run stand for the seventh wicket between Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar that put India in the ascendency. 

Rahane and Bhuvneshwar, victims of India's selection faux pas on this tour, to their great credit left their snub behind and batted with great character and resilience to take India past the magical mark of 200 runs. Yes, they had some luck on their side but they still needed to make that count. Rahane was unfortunate to fall two runs short of a half-century but to all intents and purposes, he had done his job. 

Mohammed Shami then scored a quick 27 (1x4, 2x6) to further strengthen India but once he was removed, the South Africans didn't take long to dispatch Bhuvneshwar and Jasprit Bumrah and bowl out the visitors for 247. 

Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel all took three wickets each for the Proteas; one wicket went to Lungi Ngidi. 

High on his batting performance, Shami struck in his first over as Aiden Markram (4) helplessly edged one to Parthiv Patel behind the wickets. On the heels of that dismissal came some chin music for Elgar. He was struck in the body a couple of times by Shami, however, once Bumrah bounced one into his helmet and had him rattled, the umpires came to the rescue and stopped play. 

South Africa now need 224 more to win and in all honesty, to get there they will need plenty of blood, sweat and tears. As far as the Indians are concerned, they will definitely back themselves to defend the total and get a consolation win.  

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