The first session of the third day of the ongoing South Africa-India Test at Johannesburg was packed full of action.
Initially, the under fire middle-order pair of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara carried on from where they left off on the second evening, punishing another hour of loose bowling from the hosts.
Both players raced to half-centuries, crucial innings not only for their team but for their individual careers. For Rahane, it was his first Test fifty in 13 innings; for Pujara, it was his first in nine.
Once Rahane was dismissed feathering one behind off the bowling of Kagiso Rabada, the floodgates opened for the Proteas who picked up four wickets in the second hour of the session.
Rabada then picked up wickets in consecutive overs, accounting for Pujara and Rishabh Pant after the wicket of Rahane. While the dismissals of Rahane and Pujara can be put down to good bowling, Pant’s downfall had more to do with his own decision-making than anything that Rabada did with the ball.
In a chaotic three-ball innings, Pant first wafted loosely at a good length delivery outside off stump off his first delivery at the crease – he was fortunate to miss the ball. Off his second ball, a delivery leapt off a length to strike Pant on the glove – there was little Pant could do to what was another example of the unreasonably inconsistent bounce that the Wanderers pitch was offering.
Pant was culpable in this dismissal off the third ball, however. Advancing down the track, Pant swung wildly at a decent length delivery from Rabada, only managing to edge the ball behind to a a grateful Kyle Verreynne.
Pant was duly criticised for the stroke, receiving an admonishment from India great Sunil Gavaskar on commentary.
“No excuses for that shot,” said Gavaskar. “None of that nonsense of ‘oh that’s his natural game’. There’s got to be some responsibility shown, because there are other guys like Pujara, Rahane taking blows.”
Gavaskar wasn’t alone in his criticism for Pant.
This is no way to get out. Rishabh Pant had to fight it out with the Test on line. Not buying this aggression at all #IndvsSAF
— Vikrant Gupta (@vikrantgupta73) January 5, 2022
Rishabh Pant struggling big time, needs to stop his mindless approach
— Sushant Mehta (@SushantNMehta) January 5, 2022