South Africa v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Bloemfontein, 3rd day November 21, 2008

Storm halts South Africa progress

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Bangladesh 153 and 67 for 3 (Ashraful 7*, Mehrab 0*) trail South Africa 441 for 9 dec by 221 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary


The groundstaff rush the covers onto the pitch, as Bangladesh were spared the prospect of a three-day defeat © Getty Images
 
A dramatic electric storm, 25 minutes before the scheduled lunch break, brought the third day at Bloemfontein to an abrupt end, but not before South Africa had claimed two more wickets to edge ever closer to another comprehensive victory. Though Bangladesh fought hard, and with much greater application than they had shown during their first-innings capitulation, the loss of Tamim Iqbal and Junaid Siddique, to add to Imrul Kayes' dismissal on the second evening, meant that - if the rains halt - they are still odds-on to slip to their 32nd innings defeat in 56 Tests dating back to November 2000.

Bangladesh resumed on their overnight 20 for 1, still 268 runs adrift of South Africa's total of 441, but for the best part of an hour, they put on a display of intense defiance. As Tamim showed during his thrilling exploits at the 2007 World Cup, all-out assault is his favoured form of defence, but for once he showed admirable circumspection - leaving watchfully outside off stump, and biding his time as Dale Steyn, in particular, struggled to replicate the hostility that he had shown on the first two days.

Tamim still produced a pair of crisp clips for four as Steyn strayed onto his legs with consecutive deliveries, then carved Makhaya Ntini in the air over point for his third boundary of the morning, but Ntini - who has looked sharp and hostile throughout the match - responded with some extra lift wide outside off stump. Tamim, who had already survived a huge appeal for caught behind, lost his concentration, scythed into a wild cut and feathered a simple catch to Mark Boucher behind the stumps.

Mohammad Ashraful, under pressure once again following his reckless dismissal in the first innings, endured a hairy start to his innings when Ntini found the splice of his bat with a lifter on off stump, only for the ball to fly clean over the slip cordon for four. He and his partner, Siddique, were also tormented by the introduction of Morne Morkel, whose height and awkward angles had both batsmen in trouble. Ashraful was especially lucky to survive a loud lbw shout on 6. Umpire Gould suggested that the ball might have pitched outside off stump, but the replays suggested otherwise.

With heavy clouds looming on the horizon, Jacques Kallis (career record v Bangladesh - 14 wickets at 12.50) entered the attack for an exploratory spell. Siddique greeted him with a spanking back-foot drive through point, the shot of the morning, but Kallis proved too canny for the young batsman. After bamboozling him with a perfect offcutter, he followed up with a touch of extra bounce in his second over, and for the second time in the morning, a wild cut shot had brought about a wicket.

There was only time for three more deliveries before the umpires raced the players from the field as lightning began to strike all around the ground, with Bangladesh still 221 runs away from making South Africa bat again. Sure enough, the heavens opened soon afterwards, and as the rain hammered down, play was eventually abandoned midway through the afternoon. It meant that Bangladesh avoided the ignominy of a three-day defeat, but they'll require more divine intervention to escape with anything more from this match.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo