South Africa have made a positive start in their bid to win the second Test and were 34 without loss at tea on the third day as they chased a target of 240 to beat India at the Wanderers.
Aiden Markram was on 24 and captain Dean Elgar 10 not out as the home side looked to level the series on Wednesday after losing last week’s first Test in Pretoria.
But they still face a formidable task, as it is expected that the wicket will continue to prove increasingly difficult to bat on.
South Africa had hoped to bowl India out more cheaply in their second innings but eventually dismissed them for 266 some 30 minutes before tea to set up what could be a dogged and determined run chase, with plenty of time left in the Test.
India picked up where they left off overnight with a free-scoring batting display in the first hour, moving the score from 2-85 to 2-151.
In the process, both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane scored fifties and put together a 111-run partnership for the third wicket as they dominated the home bowling.
But the runs dried up suddenly with three quick wickets for Kagiso Rabada before lunch.
Rahane went first for 58 before Pujara was trapped lbw for 53 and Rishabh Punt went for a duck after a wild and injudicious early slog.
Shardul Thakur, who had taken seven wickets in South Africa’s first innings, picked up the Indian run-rate again, scoring 28 potentially precious runs off 24 balls before being caught in the deep off Marco Jansen.
An unbeaten 40 for Hanuma Vihari, in the side in place of injured skipper Virat Kohli, added to India’s sizeable second innings score, as did 33 extras, which might prove the difference on a low-scoring wicket.
India are looking for their first series win on South Africa after a 113-run victory in the first Test.