The Proteas will have to wait until Sunday to see if India captain Virat Kohli enforces the follow-on, come day four of the second Test at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune.
The tourists slipped to 275 all out – a total that would have read substantially lower had burgeoning all-rounder Keshav Maharaj not struck a maiden Test half-century down the order.
Maharaj hit an entertaining 72, showing top- through middle-order teammates the value of calculated shot selection and solid stroke play. His previous highest Test score was the 45 collected against Australia at the Wanderers in Johannesburg in 2018.
This time, he was well supported by fellow all-rounder Vernon Philander, who ended on 44 not out. They shared a resilient 109-run alliance for the ninth wicket, ultimately keeping India in the field for more than 105 overs, which might mean Kohli will avoid enforcing the follow-on to afford the bowlers some rest.
Maharaj batted with a right-shoulder injury sustained while bowling on Friday.
The visitors trail by a hefty 326 runs, after the hosts had amassed 601-5 declared on the back of Kohli’s unbeaten double-century. The sixth double-ton of a prolific Test career was the highest for Kohli. Friday’s 254 not out surpassed the 243 collected against Sri Lanka in Delhi in 2017.
Kohli now has 26 Test centuries – as many as Australia’s Steve Smith, but from 14 extra innings. One more and he will equal former Proteas captain Graeme Smith’s tally of 27 Test tons. Kohli also passed 7,000 Test runs – four more than Australia’s sir Donald Bradman – on Friday.
On day one, first Test double-centurion Agarwal welcomed another three-figure contribution, after Kohli had won the toss and opted to bat first. This is Kohli’s 50th Test as India captain. Only Test retiree MS Dhoni has more.
India: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Senuran Muthusamy, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje.
Photo: Gallo Images