India-South Africa second Test called off

The match saw action on the opening day only, with the next four days washed out due to rain.

Ian Gould (right) and Richard Allan Kettleborough inspecting the pitch and outfield.   -  AP

Under grey skies and amidst an infuriating, persistent drizzle, the second Test between India and South Africa ended in a draw at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday. No play was possible on the fifth and final day either, with the umpires Ian Gould and Richard Kettleborough calling an end to the game after an inspection of the outfield at 11:30 a.m. Wet underfoot conditions, which had prevented play from beginning on day four, worried the officials again. As if to vindicate their decision, the skies opened up not long afterwards.

Four successive days were lost to the weather here, after the home side had advanced to a position of strength on day one. India had bowled South Africa out for 214 before reaching 80 without loss at stumps. “It is always annoying for any side, whether you have the momentum or not, to come to the ground and have no play,” the Indian captain, Virat Kohli, said. “The covers come off and the rain falls again and that was something disappointing. We wanted to go out there and play, whatever time we could get in the game.”

“It was very disappointing,” Virat Kohli said here on Wednesday. “The second and third day were especially frustrating because we had a very good first day. We had a good chance of putting South Africa under more pressure. We were positive that if we get the fourth and fifth day we could try and put more pressure on South Africa but the weather turned out this way. It was out of our control.”

The Indian captain felt the draw would not break his side's momentum. “Nothing has changed in the last four days at all,” he said. “The mood is absolutely the same we had in Mohali. We had a really positive day one here, bowling out the No.1 side in under three sessions on a decent batting wicket. And we batted pretty well, whatever time we had in the middle. Even in the last four days, we haven’t really thought about what the rain is going to do, because it can put you off. We have just reacted to how the weather has turned out, which is very important.”

India brought Stuart Binny in for Amit Mishra in Bengaluru, even after the leg-spinner had enjoyed success in his previous four Test matches. Kohli stated that he was not shy of making changes when conditions demanded them. “You have to choose the all-rounder according to the conditions,” he said. “You can’t be stubborn about the ability. You have to consider who can do the right job in those conditions because some people will be more effective. This team is about flexibility. We did not bowl Amit Mishra here. Of course, he’s bowled well in the past few months. But he understood that we needed someone like Stuart in these conditions. The feedback we got was that the Bangalore wicket does something in the last couple of days. There’s no set combination in this team. Everyone is ready to play at any stage.”

Kohli came out in forceful support of Shikhar Dhawan here on Wednesday, defending his colleague's recent record. Dhawan, who averaged 25.2 in the one-day series against South Africa, was dismissed for a duck in both innings of the first Test in Mohali. The left-hander made an unbeaten 45 in the second Test here, before rain washed out the last four days.

“If you call scoring two hundreds in three Test matches struggling, then I don’t know what ‘in-form’ is,” Kohli said. “He got a hundred in Galle, and a hundred in Bangladesh (Fatullah). Unfortunately, he got injured afterwards and played his next Test match only in Mohali. So let’s not be too hard on someone because of two or three innings. This is international cricket.”

The India captain did not feel Dhawan had been playing poorly. “We have to be patient with players like Shikhar because he is an impact player,” he said. “We need to give him as much confidence as we can. When he gets going, he wins you the game – that is a certainty. I don’t think he has been out of form; he has been batting beautifully. Sometimes, you will not get the scores that you desire, but how you are playing at that moment is important.”

Kohli was pleased with Dhawan's knock here, and believed that the opener was on his way to a big score before rain stalled proceedings. “Shikhar is hitting the ball well and he got runs here which is good for his mental set-up,” he said. “We don’t see any issues with his batting or his confidence. We have to let the individual come into his own, and not put too much pressure on him. I'm sure he is happy with the way he batted here. If he had more overs to bat, he would have been 70 or 80 not out or would possibly have got a hundred. He is the sort of player who can take the game away very quickly.”

After the fifth day's play was called off, Dhawan was seen out on the pitch, with the assistant coach, Sanjay Bangar, throwing balls down at him. “I'm delighted that he is feeling good about his batting,” Kohli said. “I'm sure he would want to score big runs in this series.”

Before it embarked on its tour of India, South Africa’s last Test fixture ended in a wet draw against Bangladesh, when the last four days of play were rained out in Chittagong. So when a similar fate befell Hashim Amla’s men in Bengaluru, they at least had the benefit of experience. “Hopefully, we get a lot more cricket in Nagpur where the weather should be more cricket-friendly,” he said here on Wednesday. “But we had a similar experience in Bangladesh not too long ago. A few days of Test cricket were washed out and there was nothing we could do about it. Dale (Steyn) got to 400 Test wickets (in Chittagong) and we held on to that. Now AB (de Villiers) played his 100th Test and did pretty well. We're pretty chuffed about that. From a team point of view, I don't see a great lot of positives to take out.”

India may feel South Africa dodged a bullet here, but Amla did not take that view. “Although we got bowled out for 214 and India were in a good position at the end of the day, Test matches are not always won on the first day,” he said. “There was a lot of time left for us to claw our way back into the game. You never know what could have happened, but it wasn't meant to be. It will be great for us to get some confidence under our belts, not having successful batting stints as yet. But Nagpur is a different Test and hopefully that's when it starts.”

Amla was not certain if Dale Steyn, who missed the second Test with a groin injury, would be fit to play in Nagpur. “I’m not 100% sure what the exact prognosis is but if he is ready, it would be great to have him back,” he said. “If he was fully fit he would have played this Test match.”

India leads the four-Test series 1-0, with the third match to begin in Nagpur on November 25.

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