A start-stop final session stalls India’s momentum


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After a short rain break, Dean Elgar offered a chance to the slip cordon but the ball slipped through the cordon for a boundary

In 5.1 overs, India went from not wanting to take the field because of an outfield they felt was killing the swing to wanting to stay on the field as the umpires took off the players because now the ball was swinging around.

After a short, sharp thunderstorm interrupted the final session’s play, the umpires announced at around 4.12pm that play would resume at 4.20pm. The India support staff, however, immediately began to point to the rest of the team how wet the outfield still was. Sanjay Bangar, the batting coach, rubbed his hands on the outfield and showed wet hands to the rest of the team. He also dragged his feet to show the marks they were leaving.

The first ball upon resumption went into the outfield for a single, and India immediately showed a wet ball to the umpires, who asked them to carry on regardless.

Upon resumption, play was fast-paced: Parthiv Patel failed to go for a regulation catch to his left, and runs came fast too, 22 of them in 5.1 overs. The last over before the umpires took players off featured movement for Jasprit Bumrah, who beat the bat of half-centurion AB de Villiers twice in a row.

The TV cameras showed India captain Virat Kohli, coach Ravi Shastri and team manager go into the match referee’s room immediately. Kohli looked upset with the events even as he walked off.

“Yeah we were carrying a good momentum so we wanted to carry on,” Bumrah said later. “It’s okay. We never get too disappointed because there is still lot of play is left in the match. So we don’t get too disheartened that this didn’t happen. We wanted to carry on but the things didn’t work out so it’s okay.”

When asked how frustrating it was to go off when they had the momentum, Bumrah said: “It was not too frustrating, you are happy that the spell was going well so you are in good rhythm so you can come back tomorrow and do well again. It’s okay. We wanted to carry on, but we were doing as we were told to do.”

Recently, Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas had pointed out in Delhi the trend of umpires calling off play for bad light only after a wicket fell. This was the rare occasion when they didn’t wait for a wicket to fall.

South Africa’s batting coach Dale Benkenstein told Supersport that at first India didn’t want to stay but insisted on carrying on once they saw a couple of balls move. “When we came, the outfield was wet,” Bumrah said. “So the ball went to the boundary sides, so it got wet. So we asked the umpire ball is still getting wet so what do we do. We want the ball to be dry so what do we do next?”

R Ashwin, who had bowled unchanged from the Pavilion End since the start of the innings, was taken off immediately after the resumption. Bumrah, though, said it was not due to the wet ball.

South Africa ended the day 118 runs ahead with eight wickets in hand and two days to go in the Test. “The game is still in balance,” Bumrah said. “If we get early wickets tomorrow, the match can be in anybody’s favour. Create pressure tomorrow as well. I think the game is still in balance right now.”



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