India captain Virat Kohli led a superb fightback with an unbeaten century before South Africa grabbed quick wickets with the new ball as the tourists went to lunch at 287 for eight on the third day of the second test on Monday.
Kohli had spoken before the match about showing more “intent” against South Africa’s seam attack and he duly delivered, compiling a brilliant 141 not out from 193 balls to leave his side trailing the hosts by 48 runs.
Kohli compiled his innings superbly, choosing his scoring shots well, and is just the second Indian batsman after Sachin Tendulkar to score two test centuries on South African soil.
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 great Australian Don Bradman who made 29 hundreds and 13 fifties.
Having laboured through most of the morning, however, South Africa used the new ball to good effect, claiming two wickets in the final 15 minutes before the break to take some shine off the Indian effort.
Kohli will resume after the interval with Ishant Sharma (nought) as the pair look to give India a potentially vital first-innings lead.
India, trailing 1-0 in the three-match series, bowled South Africa out for 335 in their first innings on a wicket that looks to be flattening out, though it is still expected to break up on days four and five under what has been a baking Highveld sun all through the test.
Resuming on 183 for five, India lost three wickets in the session, the first in farcical fashion as Hardik Pandya (15) became the fourth run out in the match.
Having been refused a single by Kohli, Pandya ambled back to his end and failed to ground his bat behind his crease despite it being a foot over the line as a throw from Vernon Philander hit the stumps.
Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin shared a quick-fire seventh wicket stand of 71 in 14.2 overs, before the latter fell to the first delivery with the new ball, caught by Faf du Plessis at second slip off the bowling of Philander.Mohammed Shami (1) did not last long before he edged a Morne Morkel delivery to Hashim Amla at first slip.