JOHANNESBURG, Jan 26 (Reuters) - India captain Virat Kohli battled bravely to help them extend their second innings lead over South Africa to 93 runs as the tourists reached 100 for four at lunch on a treacherous wicket on day three of the third and final test on Friday.
The cracks widened further on the Wanderers pitch overnight and a number of balls spat up off a good length, striking the batsmen and leading to at least two discussions between umpires Ian Gould and Aleem Dar over whether the surface was still playable.
The second of those involved both captains, Kohli and South Africa’s Faf du Plessis.
With the batsmen unable to trust the bounce, the umpires will have to decide if player welfare is under threat because the surface has become too dangerous.
Kohli (27 not out) and Ajinkya Rahane (0 not out) will resume in the afternoon session safe in the knowledge that leaving South Africa to chase anything over 170 will be a huge challenge.
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).
Murali Vijay (25) was out off the last ball before lunch, bamboozled by an excellent yorker from Kagiso Rabada (1-31).
The South Africans beat the bat on numerous occasions in the session and Kohli was missed by Aiden Markram at short leg. It was a difficult chance, however, as the ball came flush off the bat and the fielder had fractions of a second to react.
With hot conditions expected in the afternoon, the likelihood is that the cracks will widen further, making the Wanderers wicket even more of a lottery for the batsmen.
South Africa have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, but are seeking a first ever clean-sweep over India. (Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)