Near miss but miles ahead

MS DhoniDhoni got himself on to bowl as the light was too poor for his quicks. He wasn’t, however, able to dislodge Petersen, who ended the day unbeaten on 76.

There were wicket-keepers with no pads on. There were wicket-keepers swapping positions after each over. There was also a wicket-keeper bowling two overs.

You could almost have mistaken the scene for a festival match. It certainly did not appear to be a tense Test match between the top two sides in the world. The contest started with the Indians as rank outsiders but who now stand just eight wickets away from a famous win, with South Africa still 320 runs adrift of completing a world-record chase.

It had been a sunny and bright day till then in Johannesburg. The sky was overcast now. The floodlights had just taken effect. The din around the Wanderers had just picked up. There had been a few 'boring, boring' jeers earlier in the day. By the end, though, the spirits had picked up on the grass embankment, the plush corporate suites and the metal-seats stand sans the roof.

It wasn't the first time that Mahendra Singh Dhoni was turning his arm over at the Wanderers. The last time he had done so was in 2009 during the Champions Trophy against West Indies. Unlike then, he had brought himself on for a more unambiguous reason here this time.

Taking upon himself

While R Ashwin was wheeling away at the other end, the visibility wasn't good enough for the Indian captain to keep his fast bowlers in operation. He tried Murali Vijay's off-spin for an over before deciding to take the responsibility of the fill-in bowler on his own shoulders.

Dhoni even tried a bouncer during his two overs, apart from swinging a couple late into Faf du Plessis. But in contrast to his last spell at the Wanderers there was no wicket to boot. A wicket would have done nicely though despite the bizarre circumstances, especially considering that India had just gotten rid of Hashim Amla a few overs earlier in a manner that befit the setting.

... contd.

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