Dane Piedt and Kyle Abbott combined to great effect to have India struggling on 139-6 at tea on day one of the fourth Test in New Delhi.
Piedt (4-56) took his third four-for in a row in only his second Test to leave South Africa in control with a session left to play on Thursday.
He was well supported by Abbott (2-21) who bowled superbly and got the ball to reverse swing after replacing the injured Dale Steyn.
The wickets fell shortly after lunch as Shikhar Dhawan (33) and Cheteshwar Pujara (14) fell in consecutive overs off Piedt and Abbott respectively to leave India on 66-3.
They bowled very well in tandem and created pressure, but India did themselves few favours with some odd dismissals.
Virat Kohli (44) and Ajinkya Rahane shared a 70-run partnership to stabilise things, but the Indian captain lost his wicket in unfortunate fashion. He played a sweep shot straight into Temba Bavuma’s thigh, who was fielding at short leg, and as the ball went up into the air Dane Vilas reacted quickly to get across and take the catch.
Abbott bowled Pujara between bat and pad before Hashim Amla dropped Rohit Sharma on nought at slip with India on 138-4. It didn’t haunt South Africa for long as Sharma played a rash shot in the very next over off Piedt, hitting the ball high up into the air for Imran Tahir to take the catch at long-on.
Imran Tahir has only bowled four overs in the day so far at 4.5 runs an over. He struggled for consistency and at this rate this could be his last Test for South Africa, especially considering how well Piedt has gone and Harmer before him.
Scoring wasn’t easy in the morning session as India only managed about two runs an over. South Africa thought they had a breakthrough with India on 15-0 when Abbott had Murali Vijay caught at second slip by AB de Villiers for 10.
However, the delivery was deemed a no ball after a review of Abbott’s front foot convinced the third umpire that he had nothing behind the line. It was a marginal call, but looked like the correct one on the TV replays.
India soldiered on and Piedt got the breakthrough when Vijay drove at a delivery that kept straight, edging the ball to Amla at first slip for 12.