WRAP UP: Phew, what a mad-cap day this has turned into. Well, we have brought to you all the official communication that has come from both camps on the state of the match but rest assured we have not heard the last of this. This is a controversy waiting to explode, if you ask me. But for now, we’ll take leave. The cricket ended with South Africa on 17/1 in case someone is still keeping track.

Stay tuned for all the updates.

09:50 pm: Err... the replays made it clear it was a short ball.

09:45 pm: Well, the last time something this crazy had happened was this:


09:40 pm: Rahane is not mincing his words either, some quotes coming in from the press conference.

What about when SA were bowling short balls to our bowlers? They were bowling bouncers to Ishant, Shami, Bhuvi. It is a challenging wicket not dangerous. We didn’t ask them to prepare this wicket. They prepared it. We want to play on this. Rest decision is with umpires and match referee 

09:30 pm: And it’s getting interesting. The Indian team management has made its stance clear.

Quotes courtesy ESPNCricinfo:

The match referee called me at tea time in case the wicket got dangerous, in which case both the captains would be consulted. We had the view that the wicket has been the same for all three days. Today we had the highest strike rates and the least wickets. We would like to continue playing. The match referee was fearful that in case the new ball was going to be taken, it might be behave dangerously. The ball that hit Dean Elgar on his helmet was the reason play was called off today. We are willing to play. Umpires are the final judges on the fitness of the ground, regardless of the views of either of the captains. Tomorrow before the start of play we will be told. In between they will discuss - the match officials and the umpires.

We have not prepared this wicket. This is a South African wicket. We have come and played here. We have got the bowling arsenal to give it back. It’s not a wicket we prepared. We have to come and play. Just like when they come to our country, we have to be prepared to play.

09:20 pm: Some reaction from Pollock and Gavaskar.

Pollock: Hasn’t got worse really, the cracks were there since day one. Bulk of the problem is because it wasn’t dealt with earlier. As in life, the problem should have been dealt with when it presented itself. Not wait till someone got hit on the head. When someone did get in the head it was not due to the pitch. Now emotions are involved and it’s become worse.

Gavaskar: The Indians were ready to take a few blows because they sensed a win. This is an over-reaction to what happened earlier. This was a short-pitched delivery. What happened to Elgar is part of the opening batsman’s life. Nothing like a good overnight sleep, hope better sense prevails.

09:15 pm: Back in the studio, Harsha Bhogle thinks this has gone on long enough and it should have been called off earlier. Jonty Rhodes and Murali Karthik think Virat Kohli will be right to be disappointed if there’s no more play.

Here are the images that will perhaps come to define this Test:

09:05 pm: Play called off, but our money is that we will hear more about this shortly. Hang around for a bit.

Play stopped and now it’s raining: Covers are on. WOW. IS there anything that hasn’t happened in this Test match? We are out of breath just describing everything that has gone on today.

Meanwhile, pitch debate rages. Here’s my take:

Match should have called off in the first couple of sessions. Not after Faf decided to target tailenders with bouncers, the entire Indian batting lineup had to go through that & now Elgar is just atrociously bad at playing the short ball. India will be right to feel aggrieved.

Where do you stand?

Tweet does not exist

PLAY STOPPED: Although, this particular ball was a short ball, Elgar just got himself all tangled up. This is going to get very ugly, one thinks. That was a rank short ball that Elgar played badly. And I’m afraid India is going to latch on to that. Kohi and Co will be within their right to feel upset too if the match is called off based on that ball - but there was evidence before as well that this was a tough one.

PLAY STOPPED: Pycroft has a word with Ravi Shastri in the dressing room. The umpires are now taking Faf and Kohli presumably into a fancy office room to iron this out. Indian players in the dugout.

After 8.3 overs, SA 17/1 - PLAY STOPPED! WOW. Elgar now gets smacked in the helmet. Bumrah digs it in from around the wicket. The ball hits the batsmen between the vizor and the grille. The physio is out again. Elgar is getting ice packs on his forehead. Umpires stop play, referee Pycroft walks out. Play has been stopped now. Kohli doesn’t look pleased at all.

SA 10/1 after 7 overs: Elgar gets another blow to the body, this time from Shami. He goes down, but comes back up again immediately. That Shami delivery would have left a bruise, but this is gutsy stuff by Elgar. Amla looking fairly untroubled as he did in the first innings, thanks to his trigger movements. Oh and some extra padding on the gloves too, on his right hand.

SA still trail by 231 runs

South Africa 6/1 after 3 overs - Elgar gets hit: WOW. That was incredible. Bhuvi lands the ball on good length from over the wicket (not at any great pace, mind you) Elgar makes the initial forward movement to defend it off the front foot and before he could do anything about it the ball rises viciously and hits his glove about helmet high! He’s in pain. Umpires look at the pitch again. The commentators are not pleased this game is carrying on.

After 2 overs, SA 5/1 - Markram gone! The move to start with Shami has worked. He ran in with a lot of purpose in that over. Off the last ball, Markram edges it to the keeper. Bowled short outside off, the batsman poked his bat out.

After 1 over, SA 4/0: Bhuvneshwar starts off, Markram flicks one to square leg for four as the inswinger goes down the leg a bit too much. Good five balls otherwise.

Interestingly, Shami from the other end.

Innings break: India’s best batting performance comes in the final innings of the series on the most difficult wicket.

1. Why on earth is this just a 3-match series?

2. Not having a good practice match must hurt a lot now in hindsight.

DATA CHECK: Five players crossed 20 for India in this innings.

India 247 all out - South Africa need 241 runs to win: Ishant and Bumrah are swinging blindly but it might have been better to declare without either of them getting injured. Anyway, Bumrah can only delay the inevitable. He skies Philander off the first ball with the new ball and the innings is wrapped up. A great effort by Kohli and Co.

India 240/8, lead by 233 runs - Bhuvi’s fine innings comes to an end: India’s best allrounder this series without a doubt (no offence, Hardik) has played another fine hand. South Africa’s strategy of going around the wickets and bowling short (a tact that they have resorted to often in this series with good success) works against Bhuvi. Morkel gets it to rise till Bhuvi’s helmet and he can only edge it to QdK. Once again, a fine innings of 33.

India 238/7 - Shami dismissed for 28-ball 27: A powerful cameo comes to an end, as Shami goes for one swing too many. Ngidi gets the first wicket of this innings (how did that happen on this pitch?) It’s a short ball that Shami tries to dismiss over midwicket but the bat turns, he rolls his wrists and it goes to ABD at deep square leg.

After 72 overs India 230/7 - lead by 223 runs (Shami 23*, Bhuvi 30*): One six brings two for Swinging Shami. This one over midwicket off Rabada. There was a four QdK as well in the previous Philander over. It’s all happening.

India 213/7 - lead by 206 runs : Whoa, whoa! What a hit by Mohammad Shami. Swinging Shami indeed, as deposits a good length ball over long leg for a massive six - the first six of the match! Indian dressing room is all smiles. Morkel not too impressed. A few lakhs added to his IPL auction price, one would think.

India 207/7 - lead by 200: The magic number has been reached. Bhuvi and Shami will now just want to add as many bonus runs as possible. Meanwhile, a low profile ‘well done’ between Rahane and Vijay in the dressing room. Job well done, indeed, by those two today.

After 68 overs, India 203/7 - RAHANE OUT! Oops, this time it’s more than just a hopeful appeal for caught behind down the leg side. Rahane misses out on a well-deserved half century in his comeback Test - a fantastic innings on a vicious pitch comes to a tame end. QdK takes a fantastic diving catch, Morkel is delighted.

After 67 overs, India 203/6: Couple of times now that the batsmen have flicked down the leg side and resulted in loud appeals from the SA bowlers . No breakthrough yet though. Rahane 2 runs away from a well-deserved half century.

Back for the extended final session, India 202/6 after 66 overs: India have brought up their 200. It’s a cliche alright but Gavaskar is all gung ho about Rahane’s knock. ‘Form is temporary, class is permanent’ he says. Bhuvi survives a DRS appeal for caught behind down the leg stump - hit his pad, no bat.

Chai pe charcha: How good have Rahane and Bhuvi been? Here’s Ashish Magotra’s two cents (maybe a little more) about a vital partnership...

Ajinkya Rahane, the vice-captain of the Indian cricket team, finally got a game after being dropped for the first two Tests against South Africa. The series is lost but it was time for the Mumbai batsman to show just why he is rated so highly, especially when it comes to away Tests.

The first innings didn’t last long – he made 9 before he was trapped lbw by Morkel – but then in the second innings with the pitch doing dangerous things, he stepped up big time almost as soon as he came to the crease. He scored runs, looked positive, took on the SA bowler and calmly took India to a position of great strength. 

It was the kind of innings we have come to expect from Rahane over the years and the fact that Kohli thought it was okay to drop him for Rohit Sharma is something that will gnaw at our souls for a long time. 

This was not just a solid, technical innings. This was incredibly gutsy too. He got rapped on the fingers, on the elbow, on the body but he just grimaced and carried on. He gave nothing away.

At the other end, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was showing that while he may not have the big shots that Hardik Pandya possesses, he certainly puts more thought into his game. In the post-lunch session, India made 99 runs and lost 2 wickets. The partnership between Rahane and Bhuvi is already worth 51 runs and has come in quick time.

Both players have played their hand well and both have been dropped. The SA attack now looks flat but that again is down to the way India have approached this innings.

Given that both players are coming back into the side after being dropped, there is a touch of poetic justice to this as well. Both, Indian fans and Kohli, might just let their minds wander and think: what if these two had played all the games in the series?

We’ll never know the answer to that one but on this day, Rahane and Bhuvi deserve all the applause they can get.  

TEA TIME - After 65 overs India 199/6, lead by 192 runs - Rahane 46*, Bhuvi 23*:

What a session for India! 24.1 overs, 99 runs and two wickets, with India scoring at more than 4 RPO. The 50-partnership has been raised by Rahane and Bhuvi as, both of whom were dropped in a space of six balls by a sloppy South African side. That aside this has been a fantastic stand between two players who have been the center of the biggest selection debates in this series.

After 62 overs, India 192/6 - lead 185 runs: Seeing as he dropped a sitter, Faf asks Phehlukwayo to have a bowl and make amends but the man concedes 11 runs in his first over of the innings, including five wides and a boundary for Bhuvi over the slips. Things are slipping away from South Africa rather quickly.

After 60 overs, India 182/6 - lead by 174 : Bhuvi survives! Rahane survives! What is going on at the Bullring? First, Morkel goes around the wicket and targets the ribs of Bhuvi, who guides it into the hands of Elgar at slip - and it just pops right out. And if you thought that was bizarre, Rahane then cuts over point off Rabada the very next over, and Phehlukwayo drops another sitter at deep point.

After 58 overs, India 175/6 - EVENTFUL OVER: First ball, Rabada lands it short of good length, the ball shoots up over Bhuvi’s head, dips, evades QdK’s gloves and goes for 5 wides. Off the third ball, Rahane has to fend off a viciously rising delivery from good length, and gloves it beyond square leg. The umpires then have a lengthy chat, first with the batsmen then among themselves - Kohli is signalling his batsmen to stay in the middle at all costs! Play resumes and what does Bhuvi do after a couple of balls? Swats Rabada over mid-off for a four!

After 57 overs, India 163/6 - lead by 154 runs: Rahane continues show good positive intent, in the company of India’s best seam-bowling allrounder in this series (Not you, Hardik). Bhuvi is taking smart singles to keep Rahane on strike and the Mumbaikar responds with a cover drive of the highest quality against Rabada.

After 54 overs, India 149/6- PANDYA OUT: Oh dear, Pandya. It has been a forgettable series for the all-rounder since that unforgettable knock at Newlands. This is probably the most benign ball that Rabada will bowl in this spell - full, no deviation, nothing untoward - Pandya just pushes it back tamely, Rabada plucks a one-handed return catch and throws the ball back towards Pandya in anger.

DRINKS - India 148/5 after 53 overs (Rahane 28*, Pandya 4*): Gets hit on the elbow trying to leave the ball and signals he doesn’t need a physio right away. This is a determined cameo by Rahane, he didn’t even grimace.

Here’s Ashish Magotra on Virat Kohli’s magnificent innings:

This is not an easy pitch to bat on. It is anything but easy – the odd ball was taking off from a length, one would suddenly keep low, one would a souvenir along with it from the pitch. But the genius of Kohli’s innings was the manner in which he moved on to the next ball and stayed positive while doing it.

Kohli’s 41 – played on a deteriorating Jo’burg pitch – will be remembered for a long time to come. His 95 runs in his Test show that he is anything but a flat track bully. This track had pace and movement and he has done more than just survive.

The most important thing he got right was how well he moved either forward or back. There was no hesitation in the way his feet moved. That allowed him to take full toll of the loose deliveries. 

His positive intent meant that the scoreboard kept ticking even in tough conditions. It forced South Africa to go on the defensive a little too – too many quick runs on this wicket could prove to be the difference between victory and defeat.

He looked to score with every given opportunity and drove the team forward through sheer willpower.

DATA CHECK BY ANAND KATAKAM: In the course of making 95 runs in this Test, Virat Kohli has become the most prolific Indian captain in Tests. What a challenging track to get past that milestone!

India 148-5 after 51 overs - lead by 141: Well, well. Rahane batting with his collar up, literally and metaphorically. He has raced to 27 runs in 28 balls. 20 of those runs have come in boundaries and two of them in that last over by Philander - another statement-making lofted cover drive followed by a punch past the bowler that raced to the fence. Pandya meanwhile is being made to dance around the crease by Rabada - get hit first ball, and must be regretting not coming out with a arm guard.

India 134/5 - Virat Kohli is gone: What a special delivery from a special bowler to dismiss a special batsman! Rabada got it to jag back in from good length, Kohli is deceived by the movement and the ball crashes onto the stumps. Superb ball to end a superb innings. The Indian captain deserves a standing ovation for this. That’s 95 runs in this Test - 95 runs of the highest quality for Virat Kohli. He should remember this for a long time. Oozed class.

India 133/4 after 48 overs - lead by 126 runs: Ajnikya Rahane, welcome back. You have been missed. Jinx has decided he’s not just going to hang around on this track, waiting for the ball that has his number on it. First, a ferocious lofted cover drive and then an elegant flick through midwicket off one Morkel over.

India have now scored 33 runs in 43 balls since lunch break. A change in gears.

India 125/4 after 46 overs: Rahane, Kohli play out a quite over off Morkel. Meanwhile...

MILESTONE ALERT: Another day, another milestone crossed for King Kohli.

After 45 overs, India 122/4: A delightful straight drive by Rahane off Morkel for 3, another gorgeous cover drive by Kohli off Philander for four followed by a lofted cut shot by Rahane in the same over - and all of a sudden, India are getting a move on. These two are batting with purpose, and the lead has reached 115 now.

After 43 overs, India 107/4 - lead reaches 100: The three-figure mark has been reached and Kohli takes his team there with a deft back foot punch through point for four. The moment Philander went short, Kohli made the most of it. The rest of the over was full of oohs and aahs as Philander gets prodigious outswing (leg break). Rahane played out a quite over off Morkel at the other end.

04:10 pm - PLAY RESUMES: The South Africans in a huddle, Virat Kohli strides out with purpose (when does he not?) alongside Ajinkya Rahane, his deputy (is he still, one wonders). Here we go again... Rabada finishes the incomplete over, a brief mixup between Kohli and Rahane but no damage caused.

Lunch time: The umpires had a word with the ground staff on their way back to the pavilion. And this picture is the result of that...

India 100/4 after 40.5 overs - Vijay gone at the stroke of lunch: A determined innings from Vijay comes to an end. Rabada takes the pitch out of the equation with a 143kph yorker that landed on Vijay’s toes and he is delighted with that. Wicket on the stroke of lunch. But that 25 is one of the finest innings of Vijay’s career, make no mistake about that.

India 100/3 after 40 overs - lead by 93 runs: Amid all the talk of the conditions, India have reached the 100-run mark after the early blows on day three. Kohli, Vijay have now added 43 runs for the fourth wicket. According to ESPNCricinfo, both of them are batting with 80% control - which is a remarkable number on this track!

After 38 overs, India 97/3 - lead by 90 runs: By the standards of what came before, this is a period of lull in the game today. Vijay and Kohli are coming forward and playing well on the front foot. Incident-free (relatively) phase this.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer is in a Grand Slam final yet again! Chung cannot carry on with a injury and that means the Swiss Legend will go for his 20th Slam title on Sunday.

After 34 overs, India 84/3: The runs are beginning to flow (relatively speaking) now. Kohli plays a delightful off drive off Ngidi for four, Vijay plays a nice checked on drive for 3 off Ngidi’s next over. The ball is continuing to dart around. The opener has now faced more than 100 balls now - quite an achievement that!

There is now a conference of sorts going on between the umpires and the two captains in the middle after Vijay gets hit on the gloves by Rabada at the start of the next over...

After 31 overs, India 71/3: More treatment. Kohli gets smacked on the fingers from a Rabada delivery that bounces awkwardly from good length. The physio is out to take a look. Plenty of demons in the wicket. “I will give this pitch 2, out of 100, not out of 10,” says Michael Holding from the Comm box. Oh dear. The umpires are spending a lot of time looking at the wicket. This is veering into dangerous territory now.

02:40 pm: Meanwhile at Australian Open, it’s a masterclass from the Mr. PeRFect once again as he takes the first set 6-1.

India 67/3 after 29 overs, DRINKS: Another over where Vijay can just thank his lucky stars that the misbehaving ball doesn’t disturb the stumps. Rabada gets the ball to move in like he does and it misses everything - even QdK’s gloves - as it goes for a bye. Cat on a hot tin can stuff this.

India 66/3 after 28 overs, lead by 59: The runs are coming in a trickle. Kohli gets a life. He flicks it straight to short leg. It was a difficult chance as he middled it well, the fielder got his hands to it, but could not complete the catch. Tough chance.

Rabada back into the attack...

India 63/3 after 26 overs, lead by 57: Wow, this pitch is now asking unanswerable questions from the batsmen. First Kohli gets beaten by the movement and gets hit on the glove in an over where he also plays a gorgeous cover drive. Next over from Morkel, the ball pitches on good length just outside off and raises a grand total of about 3 inches from the ground - wry smiles all around.

After 23 overs, India 58/3: Vijay continues to take body blows. ‘That would be a good commercial for abdomen guard,’ says Harsha Bhogle as the ball thuds into Vijay’s, rearing from a good length from Morkel. He jogs to square leg and takes guard again, ready to leave anything that’s not heading for his body. Kohli is yet to face a ball.

After 22 overs, India 57/3 - PUJARA GONE! Well, well. What a start for South Africa to day three. There is no resistance fro Che this time around as he gets a near-unplayable delivery from Morkel. The steep bounce that Morne gets, along with the seam movement is a deadly combination and Pujara can only fend it to Faf at second slip.

After 21 overs, India 52/2: Vijay and Pujara getting bruised early on. Just one over for Rabada before Morkel comes into the attack. And roughs up Vijay with a hit on the thigh. Philander from the other end, and he gets one to deviate away sharply from the off stump (Pujara beaten) and from the same length gets one to move back in (Pujara bruised).

After 19 overs, India 51/2 - Rahul gone early: Oh dear, Rahul. What have you done. Five balls from Philander, five leaves outside offstump - Rahul was doing the right thing. And then all of a sudden, off the last ball, he goes fishing at a full on the fourth (perhaps fifth stump) and it carries to Faf at second slip. Poor batting.

After 18 overs, India 51/1 : More of the same from Vijay as in the final session yesterday as he is happy to leave anything that is remotely outside off stump. Gets a couple of runs with a dab past gully. The last ball is perhaps the closest to the stump and didn’t bounce as much from length as Vijay seemed to expect.

Big Vern from the other end...

01:25 pm: Overcast conditions at the Bullring, says Mike Haysman and that adds to the drama that was already building up. The South African bowling lineup lacked intensity in the final session seems to be the consensus, can they change that now?

Rabada with the ball in hand... Vijay and Rahul walk out to bat...

01:15 pm: Pitch report by Shaun Pollock...

“The cracks are getting wider. There is going to be plenty of assistance for the bowlers. It really has been difficult for the batsmen who have been getting hit, getting beaten. Analysis showed only 24 balls were hitting the stumps on day two. It’s going to be up and down, the batsmen need to apply themselves to survive. I would have gone with the heavy roller if I were India but they have gone with the light roller, not sure if that is the right decision.”

Bhuvneshwar stars again

01:10 pm: Bumrah finished the first innings with his first ever Test five-for and was impressive thoroughout, but the man we need to talk about is Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Despite Kohli’s doubt, Bhuvneshwar proved yet again that he’s India’s best bet with pace. The right-arm medium pacer picked up three crucial wickets as India restricted South Africa to 194 on Day 2 of the third Test.

Here’s Kushal Phatarpekar on what was a brilliant display of swing bowling by Bhuvi...

Pitch criticism

01:00 pm: Former Test captains Sunil Gavaskar and Shaun Pollock, on Thursday, criticised the wicket on offer for the ongoing the third and final cricket Test between India and South Africa, terming it a “completely bowler-friendly pitch”. Pollock compared the Wanderers pitch with the Nagpur wicket of 2015 which was rated “poor” by the ICC when South Africa toured India. “You go to India and get a surface like Nagpur where it turned too much. This can’t be judged a good surface because as a batsman you are never in,” he said.

But is it a ‘poor’ pitch? Are fans not enjoying this roller-coaster cricket? Here’s Ashish Magotra’s take on the whole issue...

All set for day three

12:50 pm: Hello all, Happy Republic Day and of course, welcome to the live blog of the third day of the final Test between India and South Africa. For perhaps just the second time in this series, India start a day ahead of South Africa (literally and figuratively) - the lead is 42 runs for the Indians and M Vijay, KL Rahul will resume building on it as action starts.