The second Test between India and South Africa was held at the Newlands, and the Cape Town pitch was in the news for all the wrong reasons, especially because of the track provided to the players. It paved the way for the shortest-ever Test match in the 147-year history of the format and received plenty of criticism from former cricketers and cricket writers.
After all the hullabaloo outside off the ground, ICC Match Referee Chris Broad finally gave his verdict on the Cape Town pitch and rated it “Unsatisfactory”, which leads to one demerit point to the Newlands Stadium. If any stadium receives six demerit points in five years, the venue will be ineligible to host international cricket for 12 months.
Chris Broad submitted his report after consultations with the captains of both teams involved – Dean Elgar and Rohit Sharma. Both the players were of the agreement that the pitch was below standard and after a period of scrutiny, the verdict was announced by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The wide range of criticism over the track also pointed out how dangerous the pitch was for the well-being of the batters. The track had huge cracks over it and fast bowlers like Mohammad Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, Kagiso Rabada, and Nandre Burger were able to generate an unplayable amount of off-the-pitch movement.
Broad rates Cape Town pitch unsatisfactory
Chris Broad added the same in his assessment – “The pitch in Newlands was very difficult to bat on. The ball bounced quickly and sometimes alarmingly throughout the match, making it difficult to play shots. Several batters were hit on the gloves and many wickets also fell due to the awkward bounce.”
South Africa, who won the toss and chose to bowl first in the second Test, were reduced to cinders in no time on the Cape Town pitch. They were bowled out for only 55 runs, their lowest total since resuming international cricket in 1992, paving way for India to take a huge advantage in the match. Just as the visiting team were looking well set to take that expected lead at 153/4, they lost six wickets without scoring a run and were bowled out for the same score.
By the end of Day 1, South Africa had lost three more wickets, which meant 23 players were dismissed in a single day. It didn’t take long for Jasprit Bumrah to do the clean-up job on Day 2 and the Indian batters chased a meagre total of 78 runs in 12 overs, but even in that pursuit, they had lost three wickets.
Although this helped India get a rare series draw in South Africa, which they achieved previously in 2010/11, the disappointment among fans of both sides was to have not seen a proper game of cricket. Dean Elgar, playing his final Test match after an illustrious career in the longest format, bid adieu to the sport in a bitter-sweet manner.
India, who had earlier won the ODI series and drawn the T20I series, will next play a three-match T20I series against Afghanistan, which will mark the return of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the shortest format.