South Africa looked more at home on this New Delhi surface as they went to tea on 38-1, still 296 runs behind India’s first-innings total of 334.
This first innings will determine South Africa’s ability to either win or draw the fourth and final Test. Aiding them will be the most batting-friendly pitch of the series.
Dean Elgar was the only casualty, edging Umesh Yadav behind for 17. Until then he and Temba Bavuma, in the unfamiliar position at the top of the order, looked comfortable and assured facing the Indian seamers.
Ravi Ashwin bowled five overs before tea but didn’t look too threatening. Bavuma (20) and Hashim Amla (1) will continue batting in the third session.
Kyle Abbott completed a five-wicket haul shortly after lunch to bowl India out for 334.
India were 326-8 at lunch but Abbott (5-40 in 24.5 overs) took the last two wickets in the space of three balls to get the second five-for of his career.
He had Ashwin (56) caught by AB de Villiers after the batsman got a top edge to a pull shot and Ishant Sharma was trapped lbw two balls later to wrap up the innings.
India added 103 runs to their overnight score of 231-7, thanks to Ajinkya Rahane’s first century (127) in India and Ashwin’s fifty. Together the pair shared a vital 98-run partnership which has put their team in firm control of proceedings.
South Africa will be kicking themselves for letting India get away from them. At 139-6 at tea on day one India should never have been allowed to add almost 200 runs for the last four wickets.
Credit to Rahane, who was under immense pressure to get his career on home soil going after low scores in the series. He was fortunate to get a second chance after Amla dropped him on 78 on Thursday, a mistake that has proved costly.
South Africa were sloppy in the field during the morning session where every run was vital.
Imran Tahir took the only wicket of the session when Rahane tried to scoop him over cover but only succeeded in finding De Villiers, who took a straightforward catch.
Amla took the second new ball at the start of the day and while the seamers bowled well, the tactics perhaps weren’t aggressive enough.
Picture: Associated Press