A five-wicket haul by Ravindra Jadeja and a well-deserved century by Ajinkya Rahane helped India to a strong position in the fourth and final cricket Test against South Africa at the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi on Friday.
Having dismissed India for 334 runs, the Proteas were bundled out for 121 in their first innings with Jadeja boasting figures of 5/30.
The Indians however, decided against enforcing the follow-on and will begin their second innings when play resumes on Saturday.
The hosts suffered a scare when Cheteshwar Pujara was hit by a Dean Elgar shot while fielding and was taken to the hospital with a minor injury. The Indian team management, however, assured that he would be fit to play on Friday.
The Indian bowlers claimed as many as nine wickets in the final session of the day to push South Africa to the wall. Pacers Umesh Yadav (2/32) and Ishant Sharma (1/23) and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (1/12) were all among the wickets.
Earlier, Rahane notched up his fifth Test century to propel India to a big total. The Mumbai batsman scored 127 runs with 11 boundaries and four sixes before being dismissed by Dane Piedt.
Ashwin (56) also tormented the South African bowlers, scoring a half-century with six hits to the fence and a six. Rahane and Ashwin added 98 runs between them, the highest partnership of the series so far, to help the hosts post a big total.
The visitors rode on superb bowling from leg-spinner Imran Tahir and pacer Kyle Abbott to end India’s first innings just after the lunch break.
Tahir claimed the vital wicket of Rahane in the morning session for figures of 1/66 while Abbott sent back Ashwin and Ishant off successive deliveries to have a handosme return of 4/117.
Off-spinner Dane Piedt (5/40) did not manage to add to his tally on Friday.
The visitors then endured a difficult start to their first innings as Indian pacers Yadav and Ishant bowled with pace and aggression. The occasional delivery was keeping low, which complicated matters for the batsmen.
Openers Temba Bavuma and Elgar survived several close calls before the latter edged Yadav to wicketkeeper Wriddhhiman Saha.
That saw Hashim Amla join Bavuma in the middle and the duo ensured that the visitors did not lose any more wickets till lunch.
Jadeja came into his own when play resumed, bowling Bavuma in the very first over after the break. Amla continued his recent run of low scores, offering an easy catch behind the stumps while attempting to cut a Jadeja delivery that was spinning away.
The in-form Faf du Plesis virtually gifted his wicket to Jadeja with a miscued paddle-sweep before Yadav sent J.P. Duminy’s off-stump for a walk with a beautiful delivery that shaped slightly in after pitching.
The Proteas continued to lose wickets at regular intervals and by the time A.B. de Villiers holed out in the deep, their innings was virtually over.
Brief scores: India (1st innings): 334 (Ajinkya Rahane 127, R Ashwin 56, Virat Kohli 44, Kyle Abbott 5/40, Dane Piedt 4/117); South Africa (1st innings): 121 all out (AB de Villiers 42, Ravindra Jadeja 5/30)