Persistent rain interfered with South Africa’s plans to wrap up the first Castle Lager Test at Outsurance Park on the third day on Friday. The rain started 25 minutes before the scheduled lunch break, and continued throughout the early afternoon, with little sign of abating.

The umpires called play off for the day at 3.15.

The Proteas were in a strong position when the rain started, with Bangladesh 67 for three in their follow-on innings, still trailing South Africa by 221 runs.

The umpires were set to call play off for the day at five o’clock if the rain persisted.

Bangladesh looked slightly more comfortable on Friday morning, but were still in deep trouble when a thunderstorm forced the umpires to take lunch early.

Timim Iqbal and Zunaeed Siddique managed to hold out for 50 minutes before Timim flashed at a widish delivery from Makhaya Ntini, and was neatly caught behind by Mark Boucher for 20. He and Zunaeed had put on 32 runs together for the second wicket.

Zunaeed lost his wicket shortly before the start of the storm, when he was caught behind by Boucher off Jacques Kallis.

Although he did not take a wicket, Morne Morkel bowled much better than he had done on the second day, and finished the session with the very respectable figures of four runs off five overs. Dale Steyn was the most expensive bowler, conceding 32 runs off his seven overs.

Paul Harris, who took a wicket in Bangladesh’s first innings, was scheduled to fly to Cape Town on Friday morning to consult a specialist about the injury to his left hand. He broke a bone at the base of his thumb during fielding practice on Wednesday. He is expected to be out of action for three to four weeks, but his injury is not expected to affect his inclusion in the party to tour Australia next month.

However, he will not be available to play for the Titans in the Champions League in India.

The Proteas made it known before the start of play that they wanted to finish the Test on the third day. With the leaden skies over Bloemfontein, and forecasts of similar weather for Saturday, they might have to curb their impatience.