South Africa lost their first away series in nine years after India beat them by 124 runs inside three days in Nagpur on Friday to lead the series 2-0 with one to play.
The second longest unbeaten streak away from home in Test history has been broken by an Indian team who relied on their superior spin attack to bowl South Africa out of the series.
Even if South Africa win the fourth Test in Delhi, they will know they have been comprehensively outplayed in this series.
Things unravelled quickly after India took the second new ball midway through the third session.
JP Duminy (19) and Dane Vilas had continued after tea, but both fell to Ravi Ashwin, who took seven wickets in the second innings for a 12-wicket haul in the match.
He has been India’s chief destroyer in this series and has now taken 53 wickets in eight Tests in 2015 to make him the leading wicket-taker in world cricket.
Duminy was plumb lbw leaving a straight delivery which failed to turn away from him. Vilas was caught behind getting some glove to a leg-side delivery as India had their tails up.
Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel were dismissed cheaply as Ashwin wrapped things up with the new ball to cap off a dominant display by the home side.
Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis showed great resistance earlier in the day as they batted for 45 overs and shared a 72-run partnership to frustrate India, but to their credit the home side never panicked and instead got two crucial wickets to swing the session in their favour.
Amla and Du Plessis survived numerous appeals for lbw and catches but the umpires have been in great form in this Test, ensuring a fair contest for both teams.
South Africa finally showed some application and fight in this series, Amla and Du Plessis showing their teammates it was possible to hang around for a period of time, but it was too little too late.
Amla was the first to go. He showed great patience and composure, facing 167 deliveries for his 39 runs. The patience he and Du Plessis showed was evident in the fact that they went 24 overs without scoring a boundary.
For about 45 overs Amla and Du Plessis dealt with everything India threw their way, until Amit Mishra (3-51) was introduced into the attack for his second spell.
Amla fell to a delivery pitched on off-stump and turning away from him. The captain played a forward defensive shot, got the edge and was caught by Virat Kohli.
Du Plessis (39 off 152 balls) went two overs later when he tried to play across the line to a straight Mishra delivery, missed it and the ball clattered into his middle stump.
Dean Elgar (18) showed determination early on, but he got an inside edge off his pads which was caught by Cheteshwar Pujara.
AB de Villiers looked to play positively, as always when he came to the crease, but it didn’t last long. Ravi Ashwin trapped him lbw for nine.
Picture: Associated Press