The resistance lasted 45 overs before Amit Mishra came and spoiled the fight as India closed in on victory at tea on day three of the third Test in Nagpur.
With Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis back in the shed, India will fancy their chances of wrapping up the game in the final session on Friday.
The pair gave South Africa hope of seeing out the day as they 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 might prove to be 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 Mishra 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.
JP Duminy (15) and Dane Vilas (2) will continue after tea.
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.