Ravichandran Ashwin was the pick of India’s bowlers again as the hosts bowled out South Africa for 275 despite a battling half-century by ailing tailender Keshav Maharaj and an unbeaten 44 by Vernon Philander in the second Test on Saturday.
Maharaj, who hit a career-best 72 with an injured shoulder, and Philander put on 109 for the ninth wicket to frustrate the Indian bowlers in Pune.
Ashwin broke the stand by taking number 10 Maharaj in the final overs and then claimed last man Kagiso Rabada, for two, to wrap up the innings with figures of 4/69.
India, who scored 601/5 declared, have until the start of play on Sunday to decide whether to enforce the follow-on. South Africa still trail India by 326 runs.
The Proteas, who resumed on 36-3, slipped to 162-8 after skipper Faf du Plessis fell for 64 to Ashwin’s off spin.
Maharaj, who injured his shoulder while fielding on Friday and went off the pitch for scans, came out to join Philander to make a last stand. He passed his previous Test best of 45 with a boundary off Ashwin and completed his fifty to an ovation from the crowd.
“It’s (shoulder) very sore. Yesterday I dived on it so lot of bruising. But hopefully I’ll be fine for the rest of the series,” Maharaj, primarily a left-arm spinner, said.
“Vernon and I said to ourselves that we’ll just get through to tea and see after that. Being a lower order batsman your fingers do itch to play a big shot but Vernon kept me in a good mind space.
“After a few pulls I felt normal (in the shoulder). It’s better to be positive, because if you go into your shell a ball with your name will come along sooner or later.”
Philander, a pace-bowling all-rounder, also played a patient innings. He stayed on for 192 balls before running out of partners.
Fast bowler Mohammed Shami struck early to remove nightwatchman Anrich Nortje for three when he edged a delivery to Virat Kohli at fourth slip.
Theunis de Bruyn was caught behind off Yadav for 30 as the tourists slipped to 53 for five.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock put on a 75-run fourth wicket stand with du Plessis to offer some resistance before Ashwin’s off spin bowled him for 31.
Kohli hit a career-best 254* to surpass Don Bradman’s Test tally of 6,996 runs on Friday as India tightened the screws on the tourists.
A victory for India, already one up in the three Tests, will see them beat the record of 10 straight home series wins they share with Australia.
(With AFP inputs)