Play was called off at Wanderers Stadium on Friday after South African batsman Dean Elgar was hit on the grille of his helmet by a short ball from India’s Jasprit Bumrah.

Umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould had held talks earlier in the day because of unusual bounce and deviation on a pitch which former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar described as “dangerous”.

After Elgar was struck late in the afternoon, match referee Andy Pycroft joined the umpires on the field and the third day of the third and final Test was halted.

South Africa, set 241 to win, were 17 for one.

Both captains were called into a meeting with Pycroft in accordance with International Cricket Council regulations.

The procedure is that umpires can call off play when they consider conditions to be dangerous. The umpires and match referee then consult the captains.

Play can resume if the captains agree. If not, the umpires and match referee have to decide whether it is possible to effect repairs to the pitch so that play can resume.

If not the match can be abandoned.

Only two Test matches have previously been abandoned because of dangerous conditions.

In January 1998, England were 17 for three against the West Indies at Sabina Park in Jamaica when the umpires stopped play because of a dangerous pitch.  In February 2009, a match between the same two teams in Antigua was called off after ten balls because a soft outfield was regarded as dangerous for bowlers and fielders.

Former international players in the TV commentary box were critical of the pitch.

“It’s almost an accident waiting to happen,” said ex-South African captain Kepler Wessels.  Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding recalled the 1998 Jamaica Test.  “That was a total fiasco, this isn’t far off,” he said.