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Challenging pitch, but not dangerous - Rahane

The batsman insisted the ball that hit Dean Elgar in the helmet did not behave in an extraordinary manner, and said India, having 'prepared turners' for the home series against South Africa in 2015-16, had expected to play on pitches like this one at the

India were clearly not happy with being taken off the field when they were by the match officials, 19 minutes from the scheduled close of day three. They felt the ball that led to the players going off was not unusual but was consistent with how the pitch had played. They felt disadvantaged after they had batted on the "same" pitch, and felt that it didn't seem dangerous to them.
"The wicket was definitely challenging, but if you see our openers batted so well," Ajinkya Rahane said. "The wicket was similar for both teams. Vijay got 25 runs, and he faced 130-140 [127] balls. It was completely the same for everyone. Our approach was that we want to play and win this Test match. When Bhuvi and I were batting, we were not thinking about the wicket. We were just focussing on playing that particular delivery. Yes, the odd ball we got hit on the hand or the glove, but that's the nature of the wicket, we cannot control that."
Both Rahane and Sunil Subramaniam, the India manager, insisted the ball that hit Dean Elgar in the helmet grille was not too far from being a regular bouncer. "I don't think so," Rahane said when asked if there was anything irregular about the ball. "I think the ball was back of a length, a hard length. As our manager mentioned, it kicked off. Slightly more bounce than usual, but if you see the wicket and see the bounce here, it was completely natural. Even when Bhuvi and I were batting, or Vijay was batting against the new ball, we faced the same. It is not dangerous, it is completely similar for both teams."
The teams revealed that the first discussion around the nature of the pitch took place during the tea break, when the match referee met the two captains, but there were quite a few discussions between the umpires and the players, and the umpires looked at the pitch with concern every time a player took a blow. Rahane said the discussions with him were not about whether play should continue or not.
"They were just checking on me, that if I'm okay," Rahane said. "Because I got hit once on my elbow and my glove. They were telling me I can take my time, and [telling me] if you want to call the physio, you can call Patrick [Farhart] and take your time. Don't be in a hurry."
India also made the point that it was a pitch South Africa had asked for. "This is the wicket they prepared," Rahane said. "We also batted, our openers also batted. We struggled a lot, but it is completely similar for both teams so we cannot complain about this wicket. Our aim is to play and win this Test match, and we are looking to play.
"We all knew that when we come to South Africa, we will get wickets like this. Because when we played in India, we prepared turners, so we knew that we'll get wickets like this when we come here. We have to be prepared to play on these kinds of wickets."
Rahane wouldn't get dragged into speculating whether South Africa didn't feel like continuing with the game because of the situation they found themselves in. He also wished Elgar well. "When Hashim Amla got 60-odd in the first innings, no one was talking about that," Rahane said. "Everyone was talking about his innings, and how he played. Unfortunately Dean Elgar got hit on his head, and I hope he's fine. But I don't think the wicket is too dangerous.
"You cannot call it a dangerous wicket just because Elgar got hit. Most of the batsmen got hit, even Amla got hit in first innings, Vijay got hit. Pujara batted well in first innings, Virat batted well, they got hit. We never complained about it being a dangerous wicket. We just said it is a challenging wicket. They prepared this wicket, we never told them to prepare a track like this. They prepared this wicket so we want to play."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo