Ajinkya Rahane
India'a Ajinkya Rahane takes evasive action during the 3rd day of the 3rd Test against South Africa in Johannesburg on Friday (January 26).Reuters

A dangerous pitch brought play to a close 20 minutes early on the third day between South Africa and India with the home side chasing an unlikely target of 241 in the third and final Test on Friday (January 26).

Match Scorecard

The Wanderers wicket had seen balls lifting sharply off a good length all day. Umpires Ian Gould and Aleem Dar, after at least four discussions on whether to take the players off the field, finally took the decision when South Africa opener Dean Elgar was struck on the helmet by a short ball from seamer Jasprit Bumrah.

Also read: Day 2 report

The home side were 17 for one at the close, with Elgar 11 not out and Hashim Amla at the other end on 2, still needing 224 for victory in their second innings.

With the batsmen unable to trust the bounce, the umpires and match commissioner Andy Pycroft will now have to decide if player welfare is under threat because the surface has become too dangerous or if play can resume on Saturday morning.

Also read: What are pitch ratings and sanctions?

Only two tests have previously been called off due to unplayable conditions, both in the West Indies involving England, but on each occasion that was on the first morning of the game.

India might feel aggrieved to have lost 20 minutes at the end of day after their own batsmen took body blows in their second innings.

South African opener Aiden Markram (4) failed for the second time in the test when he edged a rising ball from Mohammed Shami to wicketkeeper Partiv Patel to give India an early breakthrough.

India had earlier showed admirable bravery in posting 247 in their second innings, with their final four wickets adding what could be a vital 99 runs as they took the attack to the bowling.

Ajinkya Rahane (48), not picked for the first two tests of the series, played some sublime shots in difficult conditions, while captain Virat Kohli (41) showed resilience before he was bowled by a superb in-swinging delivery from the pick of the South African bowlers, Kagiso Rabada (3-69).

Rabada also produced a yorker to remove Murali Vijay (25) with the last ball before lunch, and then took a brilliant one-handed catch off his own bowling to remove Hardik Pandya (4).

Vernon Philander (3-61) and Morne Morkel (3-47) chipped in with wickets for the home side.

South Africa have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, but are seeking a first ever clean-sweep over India.