The Virat Kohli-led India team may have surrendered the ongoing three-Test series in South Africa, but the visitors came up with a morale-boosting batting performance on a spiteful wicket in Johannesburg on Friday, January 26.
Former cricketers and fans heaped praise on the Indian batsmen for their valiant show in Wanderers amidst inconsistent bounce that forced an abandonment on Day 3 of the ongoing final Test.
South African opener Dean Elgar was hit in the face when a Jasprit Bumrah delivery "kicked off", bouncing "more than usual" in the ninth over of the hosts' second innings. Even as the left-hander was attended to by the physio, the umpires intervened and took the players off the field with 19 minutes of play left in the day.
Captain Kohli and his teammates were visibly unhappy with the day's play coming to an abrupt end. The on-field drama added fuel to speculations of the match being called off.
However, it was announced later in the evening that play would continue as scheduled on Day 4, and that the umpires and match referee will continue to monitor the situation and take a call if the pitch deteriorates further.
Johannesburg pitch not dangerous: Ajinkya Rahane
Team India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane brushed aside concerns of the pitch being "dangerous." However, he called it "challenging".
The 29-year-old, who himself took quite a few blows on his body during his 68-ball 48 on Day 3, added that the team will still look to win the Test. Notably, Indian tailenders were peppered with short-pitch stuff, but the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar (33) and Mohammed Shami (27) negated the situation to good effect.
Earlier in the day, Murali Vijay, who made 25 from 127 balls, was hit multiple times on the fingers, after which captain Kohli, who hit a fluent 41, suffered a similar fate and had to be attended to by the team physio.
South Africa ended Day 3 on 17/1, needing another 224 more runs to win the Test. Notably, the hosts were bowled out for 194 in the first innings after Bumrah picked up his maiden five-for in the longest format of the game.
"It [the pitch] was challenging. The wicket was similar for both teams. It was completely same for everyone. Our approach is that we want to play and we want to win this Test match," Rahane told reporters after the day's play in Johannesburg.
He added: "What about them bowling short balls to our bowlers. When Ishant, Bhuvi, Sharma were batting, everyone was bowling bouncers. I don't think it is a dangerous wicket.
"That ball [to Elgar] was back of length, hard length. It kicked off slightly more bounce than usual. The bounce on this wicket is completely natural. Not dangerous, it is completely similar for both team."
IBTimes India has compiled a list of reactions to India's valiant batting show on Day 3 of the ongoing Johannesburg Test. Check it out here.
Two things I will say about this test .. if anyone ever calls this Indian batting line up flat track bullies again they need to be reminded of the skill and bravery they have shown in this innings ..— Nasser Hussain (@nassercricket) January 26, 2018
I know they are 2-0 down & have made a few mistakes in this series but hats off to Virat & his boys that they want to continue playing on this pitch in the hope of making it 2-1????— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) January 26, 2018
Don’t care what happens tomorrow. I am already very proud of this Indian team for the way they have played here.— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) January 26, 2018
So what’s the difference of this pitch than earlier today? Sunny G is right. If the umpires were going to call it off, then it should have been done earlier.... but India battled through it. Now SA should have to do the same.. sadly Elgar didn’t play it well.— Dean Jones (@ProfDeano) January 26, 2018
Cricket world has changed since Philip Hughes. However, Elgar's troubles were Elgar-made! #TeamIndia— ramaswamy mohan (@ramaswamy_mohan) January 26, 2018
Very impressed by the attitude of the Indian team in playing on. Not just brave but smart too. Realise they have the runs on the board. Upto SA to take a call now. Unless the umpires have had enough.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 26, 2018
This isn't just a brave innings from Rahane; it is that of a highly accomplished player.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 26, 2018
That innings by Rahane is worth 80 on another day......— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 26, 2018