India captain Virat Kohli blazed a magnificent century, but SA hold the upper hand as they reached 90/2 in their second innings on a difficult wicket after rain and then bad light curtailed day three of the second Test on Monday.
The home side leads by 118 runs having bowled India out for 307 after lunch, despite a classy 153 from Kohli, who played almost a lone hand in scoring half his side’s runs.
AB de Villiers (50 not out) took the attack to the Indian bowlers after SA had sunk to 3/2 in their second innings on a wicket that is more Pune than Pretoria, with variable bounce taking huge turn.
De Villiers will resume on day four with opener Dean Elgar (36 not out), who has battled for rhythm but hung around in an unbeaten third wicket partnership of 87.
SA had been rocked earlier by a double strike from Indian seamer Jasprit Bumrah (2/30), who trapped Aiden Markram (1) and Hashim Amla (1) lbw with deliveries that skidded through after keeping low.
There would have been plenty of panic in the South African dressing room at that point, but De Villiers started playing attacking shots from the moment he reached the wicket to transfer the pressure back onto the tourists.
Kohli had spoken before the match about showing more "intent" against SA’s seam attack and he duly delivered, compiling a brilliant 153 from 217 balls.
He now has 21 Test tons to go with 15 half-centuries, a conversion rate when passing 50 that is only bettered in the game by Australian great Don Bradman, who made 29 hundreds and 13 fifties.
India had resumed on their overnight score of 183/5, but lost Hardik Pandya (15) to a farcical run-out as the all-rounder ambled into his crease and failed to put his bat down, only to be undone by a direct hit from Vernon Philander.
Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin (38) shared a quick-fire seventh wicket stand of 71 in 14.2 overs, before the latter fell to Philander (1/46).
Mohammed Shami (1) edged a Morné Morkel (4/60) delivery to slip, while the latter also accounted for Ishant Sharma (3), caught at short-leg.
Kohli was the last batsman out as he tried to attack the bowling, caught at deep mid-on to be become Morkel’s fourth victim of the innings.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis will be hoping De Villiers and Elgar continue their partnership and pile on the runs that will make it difficult for the tourists to come back.