The Mangaung Oval pitch used for the second ODI between South Africa and Zimbabwe has come in for some scrutiny after its unpredictable nature had the visiting batsmen hopping around against Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi under lights during their chase.

There had in fact been variable bounce from the Willows End of the ground throughout the day, and Zimbabwe seamer Kyle Jarvis bowled Reeza Hendricks with one that scuttled through low before getting a delivery to spit at Heinrich Klaasen early in the afternoon.

The greater pace of the South Africa attack seemed only to highlight the erratic bounce, and Steyn struck Zimbabwe left hander Craig Ervine on the glove and on the grille with consecutive deliveries in the third over. The very next ball hit a similar length, but shot through at pad height.

Steyn also had Hamilton Masakadza fending a length delivery off his throat, prompting Mpumelelo Mbangwa to ask on air: "What constitutes a dangerous pitch? Is it a case of someone getting hurt first before it's called dangerous?"

When Ngidi took over that end from Steyn, the second ball of his fourth over reared and took the handle of Brendan Taylor's flailing bat, a remarkable edge flying off the top of the handle and ballooning high over the slips. "Wow, that's danger," Makhaya Ntini said on television commentary.

It was at this point that umpires Adrian Holdstock and Chris Gaffaney appeared to take real notice, getting together between overs. The Bloemfontein pitch could be in danger of official sanction by the ICC if it receives a bad rating from the match referee, Jeff Crowe.

After this game, Crowe will complete a report form and rate the pitch. According to the ICC's Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process, which came into effect in January, if it is rated below average, it could be sanctioned with a demerit point. A poor rating will bring three demerit points, while if it is rated unfit - at which point the match would have to be called off - five demerit points are allocated. If that happens, the venue is suspended from hosting international cricket for 12 months.

This isn't the first time the pitch at the Mangaung Oval has come in for criticism. In March 2017 a One-Day Cup play-off match between the Knights and the Warriors at this ground had to be called off due to the dangerous conditions. Umpire Holdstock had also been officiating in that game.

Neither of the captains were impressed by the track prepared for this ODI. "It wasn't ideal, not the kind of pitch we've come to know in Bloemfontein," said JP Duminy, who hoped for a better surface in the third ODI. "The surfaces across the two games have been a bit challenging. I hope Paarl is one where a few runs can be scored."

"If you look at the surfaces we've had, it's been tough for the batsmen to grab opportunities," added Masakadza.

Former cricketers and even the families of the Zimbabwe team took to social media to air their views on the track.

"Not the 1st time the groundsman in Bloemfontein has got a pitch horribly wrong #shocker" tweeted former Proteas left-arm spinner Paul Harris on Twitter. Pat Symcox also weighed in, saying "The groundsman should be asked to come and bat on this pitch against @DaleSteyn62. What a shocker. One of the outstanding batting strips in SA gone to the dogs for an international game that they so badly need. #notgoodenough".

Chantelle Williams, wife of Zimbabwe allrounder Sean, tweeted: "For once in my life I actually don't want Sean to come out to bat on this pitch against these bowlers! This is scary stuff."