An unbeaten 133-run partnership between Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane has put India in a commanding position with two days left in the fourth Test.
No wickets fell in the third session of day three and Kohli (83) and Rahane (52) are expected to bat another hour or so on Sunday. India finished the day on 190-4, a lead of 403, which on the last two days of a deteriorating pitch will be extremely difficult to chase.
India have to declare first, but the expectation is that they are looking for a lead in the region of 450 before giving themselves enough time to bowl South Africa out.
There is nothing to suggest that South Africa will even come close to that as they have managed to score more than 200 only once so far in the series.
The more optimistic fans will point to South Africa’s history of chasing big targets successfully to win a game or just batting out an innings to save it, but the pessimists will point to the Proteas’ history in this series as evidence that they will struggle to even bat out a day, never mind two.
Nevertheless, Hashim Amla and his charges have been extremely poor with the bat in this series and after their shambles in the first innings here, when they were blown away for 121, they need to show a bigger commitment and fighting spirit in the second, an effort befitting of the No 1-ranked Test team in the world.
And they have plenty of reason to try. Selection will be a big discussion in the lead up to the England series and all the batsmen, with the exception of AB de Villiers, have a point to prove.
South Africa bowled and fielded valiantly in the first two sessions despite having their backs against the wall.
Morne Morkel (3-29) was excellent again with ball in hand and the pick of the bowlers. He bowled with intelligent game plans and mixing up his line and length to keep the batsmen guessing.
He also swung the ball to great effect and has been rewarded with three wickets. He took both wickets in the morning session and struck again after lunch. He set Shikhar Dhawan up with a brilliant yorker, the ball clipping the bail off the leg-stump to leave India on 53-3.
Morkel has done exceptionally well in this series in conditions that doesn’t really suit him and in the absence of Dale Steyn. His bowling has been one of the few positives to take from the tour and will fill him with confidence for the England series, which starts on 26 December.
Imran Tahir bowled Cheteshwar Pujara for 28 with a delivery that kept low. Pujara didn’t help himself by playing on the back foot rather than playing forward, his feet stuck in the crease.
India went to lunch on 51-2. Morkel got rid of Murali Vijay and Rohit Sharma in consecutive balls to lift the spirits of his teammates.