IMAGES from Day 3 of the 3rd Test played between South Africa and India at the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg on Friday
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.
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.
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.
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 Testwhen he edged a rising ball from Mohammed Shami to wicketkeeper Parthiv 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.
Sloppy South Africa let Bhuvneshwar Kumar (33) and Rahane off the hook in the half-hour before tea with dropped catches off simple chances as Dean Elgar spilled Kumar at third slip and Andile Phehlukwayo put down Rahane at deep cover.
Earlier, the home side picked up two early wickets in the morning session after India had resumed the day on 49 for one, with Lokesh Rahul (16) wafting at a wide delivery from Vernon Philander (2-21), the nick carrying to Du Plessis at second slip.
Cheteshwar Pujara (1) could not repeat his first innings half-century when he too edged a delivery to Du Plessis, this time off fast bowler Morne Morkel (1-13).
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.