Wanderers Test set for thrilling finale

2018-01-27 15:25
Dean Elgar (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg – At the start of day four of the third Test between the Proteas and India, nobody was giving the hosts a chance.

With an hour-long delay due to wet weather and immense uncertainty surrounding the quality of the Wanderers wicket, it wasn’t even clear how long play would go on for.

Yet, two sessions later, South Africa are very much in with a chance to win this Test match.

Dean Elgar (61*) and Hashim Amla, resuming on 17/1 at the start of the day, combined for one of the most courageous 119-run partnerships you will ever see.

By the time Amla was out for 52, clipping Ishant Sharma to mid-wicket, he had batted for 240 minutes with Elgar in a stand that lasted 306 balls.

That partnership had laid the foundation for what looked a likely South African win, but India got the prized wicket of AB de Villiers (6) just before the end of the second session when he pushed at a Jasprit Bumrah delivery only to be taken at gully.  

At tea, South Africa were 136/3, needing another 105 runs for victory and a 3-0 series whitewash. If they pull that off, it will be the third-highest run chase Wanderers has ever seen in Test cricket and will surely go down as one of the most memorable in South Africa’s history.

It has been a simply remarkable Test match, laced with drama from the very beginning, and it now looks set to provide a thrilling finale.

There is no doubt that the wicket has behaved better than it did towards the end of play on Friday when umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould deemed it too dangerous to continue, but India have bowled poorly.

The wicket is still causing continuous problems with its lateral movement and variable bounce, but Elgar and Amla defended for their lives.

While the ball beat the bat countless times, the dogged South African pair kept their focus throughout, even with the odd delivery spitting up onto the gloves.

When Elgar tried to leave a Hardik Pandya delivery but instead found a gap between the slips for his seventh boundary, he had brought up his half-century off 153 balls.

It was Elgar’s 10th 50 in Test cricket, but none will have come harder than this.

The 30-year-old has gone from a concussion test on Friday night after he was smashed on the grille by the Bumrah bouncer that brought play to an end, to grinding out what could be a performance for the ages.


Read more on:    proteas  |  hashim amla  |  dean elgar  |  johannesburg  |  cricket

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